Breathe HR review

Get quick and simple employee management using the power of Breathe HR

Breathe HR
(Image: © BreatheHR)

TechRadar Verdict

Small business owners who are keen to get value and functionality in equal measure should investigate Breathe HR, especially seeing as there’s a free 14-day trial. This will take you through all of the features and allow you to exploit the power of it’s minimalist but potent menus. It covers pretty much everything you’ll need to do in terms of employee management and produces some really decent reports as part of the package. Impressive.


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    Great selection of features

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    Colourful and easy to use interface

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    Simple cost structuring

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    Soon to integrate with Xero Payroll


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    Currently SME focused

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    Maximum 200 employees

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If you’re a small business that has fewer employees than a large corporation then some of the best payroll software out there might seem a little more than you need. However, SMEs need to be just as lean and efficient, if not more so, than those larger outfits, so having the right payroll and HR package can still be money well spent. Something our best HR software guide underlines only too well.

Breathe HR has been designed with SMEs firmly in mind, with features and functions that will allow you to save time, get administrative tasks done more efficiently and keep your employees feeling valued. It’s also a great package for ensuring your data is kept safe and secure. If you’re not convinced then it’s possible to try Breathe as part of a free 14 day trial.

Breathe HR

Breathe HR is an employee management software provider (Image credit: Breathe HR)

Breathe HR: Plans and pricing

The Breathe HR pricing structure is based on a per organisation arrangement, rather than the per person route favourite by some software vendors. This in itself makes Breathe HR a practical and easy to fathom solution, which doesn’t have the convoluted structuring that some larger and better known rivals tend to have.

As mentioned above, if you’d like to explore its capabilities then Breathe HR is available, complete with all the features, free for 14 days.

Usefully, the Breathe HR website has a ready reckoner function, which can work out your costings, based on the number of employees you have. It starts from 1-10 people and goes up to 151-200. That’s a great way of covering the needs of a vast array of the small business community. All plans come with Core HR as a standard issue, which is ideally suited for everyday HR administration duties.

Currently, in its most basic guide, Core HR will therefore cost £13 per month or £140 annually. This is a per year, per account setup and covers one account. At the top end of the employee number, expect to pay £500 per month, per account or £5400 annually. 

Breathe HR also has a couple of add-ons in the shale of its Rota, Time & Attendance package along with a Learn module. However, at the time of writing the Breathe HR website notes that these are additional modules and cannot be purchased separately. Presumably then you have to add them when you first sign up for your account.

Breathe HR

(Image credit: Breathe HR)

Breathe HR: Features

Although Breathe HR is aimed more at the small business community, that doesn't mean that it’s lacking in any department. In fact, Breathe HR is literally bursting with lots of features and functions, all within the framework of a simple to use system.

It lets you tackle all of those everyday HR tasks including leave and absence, rotas and shift planning, people and employee management, time tracking and wider HR management. The software can also be integrated with the Breathe API and Xero Payroll, which broadens both its reach and appeal still further.

Drill down inside those core features and you’ll find that Breathe HR can facilitate quick and easy staff and holiday planning, track employees holidays and monitor absenteeism. There’s scheduling for working out rotas, team management tools and a way of forecasting salaries too. You can also manage payroll, track performance and carry out both location and Covid 19 management as and when it’s needed.

Breathe HR

Handling personnel is easy using the simple power of Breathe HR (Image credit: Breathe HR)

Time is always money in the world of the SME, so it’s also good to know that Breathe HR can handle time logging, time tracking and there’s a time clock system for covering all bases during work time and shifts. Office administrators as well as bosses will also love the HR dashboard alongside the HR database that comes as part of Breathe HR while easy document management extends the appeal.

Breathe HR

(Image credit: Breathe HR)

Breathe HR: Interface and in-use

If you’re running a business then one of the biggest chores for anyone is getting to grips with a new software package. However, Breathe HR has been designed and engineered specifically for SME’s and as a result of that it is very easy to master. The overall design and layout is quite minimalist, with a solid use of colour in all the right places.

Getting to grips with menus and other features and functions is surprisingly straightforward. At the same time, Breathe HR never looks or feels like it’s too basic. Small business owners should find it carries out all of their everyday HR management tasks with aplomb. The software should become even better once the integration with Xero Payroll comes to fruition too.

Breathe HR

Breathe HR has powerful reporting functionality too (Image credit: Breathe HR)

Breathe HR: Support

Once you’ve signed up with Breathe HR you’ll have all the trapping that come with a paid for account. Naturally, that means there’s support, which comes in all of the usual formats including online and messaging systems. There are valuable online FAQs and a help hub to get you past any minor difficulties. Breathe HR’s website is also home to lots of additional information, with blog posts and the like all adding to the strong sense of support that’s part of the package here.

Breathe HR

You'll get the usual level of support options from Breathe HR (Image credit: Breathe HR)

Breathe HR: Security

Any company that has employees is duty bound to ensure they have security first in mind when it comes to protecting data. You’ll find that Breathe HR meets all the criteria for ensuring personnel records are handled discreetly and behind a secure curtain. This includes having a two-factor authentication system in place for all users. Breathe HR also has a dedicated page on its website, where it is possible to drill down and check all of its security credentials.

Breathe HR

Breathe HR is one of the easiest software solutions to master (Image credit: Breathe HR)

Breathe HR: The competition

A comparable alternative to Breathe HR is Gusto, which lets you handle HR but has payroll functionality as part of the package too. In fact, Gusto is primarily a payroll platform with HR add-ons. Another alternative is Zenefits, which is the opposite: a complete HR solution with features like org charts and performance reviews and a payroll add-on. Pricing goes from $8 to $21/month/employee, with payroll features adding an extra $6/month/employee. It also comes with a 14-day demo.

An alternative for larger businesses is OnPay, which has a very similar feature set, combining payroll and HR, but a simpler pricing structure. OnPay has a $36/month base fee plus $4/month/user, and you only pay for employees who are paid in any given month. It also has a 30-day free trial.

Breathe HR

Sage Payroll can be used as a free trial for 14 days too (Image credit: Breathe HR)

Breathe HR: Final Verdict

The additional bit of good news about Breathe HR is that the company is partnering with Xero, the payroll software provider. If all goes to plan you’ll soon be able to use the two in tandem, which if you’re a small business owner will probably make sound financial sense and hopefully the pairing will be seamless to boot. Overall then, Breathe HR looks to be an excellent and very cost effective option for anyone running a smaller outfit, with up to 200 employees.

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.