BCN Services

PEO Pricing Simplified: A Guide for Business Owners

Price and value

As a business owner, you understand the importance of having effective HR solutions in place to support your employees and drive growth. However, managing HR tasks in-house can be a time-consuming and costly process. This is where a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) comes in.

A PEO, or Professional Employer Organization, is a company that provides comprehensive HR solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. By partnering with a PEO, businesses can streamline their HR processes and free up valuable time and resources. This allows them to focus on their core business functions while still providing their employees with high-quality HR services.

In this article, we will delve into the world of PEO pricing, helping you understand the costs involved and the value a PEO can bring to your organization.

Understanding PEO Pricing Models

PEOs offer different pricing models to accommodate the needs of various businesses. The two main pricing models are the “Per Check or Per Employee” (Unbundled) and “Burden Rate” (or Bundled) Pricing.

1. Per Check or Per Employee/Period Model (Unbundled) PEO Pricing Model

One commonly used PEO pricing model is the Per Check or Per Employee/Period (Unbundled) model. This pricing structure offers businesses the flexibility to pay based on the number of checks issued or the number of employees in a specific period.

How does it work?

Under the Per Check model, businesses are charged a fee for every payroll check issued by the PEO. This can be a fixed amount per check. The advantage of this model is that businesses only pay for the actual services used, making it a cost-effective option for companies with fluctuating employment levels.

On the other hand, the Per Employee/Period model charges a set fee per employee per pay period. This pricing structure allows businesses to have a predictable and consistent budget for their HR and payroll needs.

You have the option to select a percentage of payroll for an unbundled model, where the service fee is based on the gross payroll issued. This approach is particularly suitable for businesses with transient and part-time staff, such as restaurants and convenience stores, where the percentage is lower due to the lower gross wages.

Benefits of the Unbundled Pricing Model

The Per Check or Per Employee/Period (Unbundled) pricing model offers several benefits for businesses:

  1. Flexibility: With the Per Check model, businesses have the flexibility to pay only for the checks issued, which is particularly useful for companies with variable workforce requirements.
  2. Predictable Budgeting: The Per Employee/Period model allows businesses to anticipate and budget for HR and payroll expenses with certainty, as the cost remains fixed.
  3. Transparency: This pricing model provides transparency by clearly outlining the cost per check or per employee per period, enabling businesses to have a clear understanding of their expenses.
  4. Cost-effectiveness: The unbundled pricing model ensures that businesses only pay for the specific HR and payroll services they utilize, resulting in cost savings compared to traditional models.


While the Per Check or Per Employee/Period (Unbundled) pricing model has its advantages, it is important for businesses to consider the following factors:

  • Company Size: Depending on the number of employees and payroll checks issued, businesses should evaluate which pricing structure aligns better with their size and needs.
  • Fluctuating Workforce: If the company experiences frequent changes in its workforce, the Per Check model may be the more suitable option, allowing for more flexibility in managing costs.
  • Long-term Stability: For businesses with a stable and predictable employee count, the Per Employee/Period model may provide the convenience of consistent pricing and budgeting.

Unpacking the “Unbundled” Pricing Model

The Per Check or Per Employee/Period (Unbundled) pricing model offers businesses the flexibility and cost-effectiveness to tailor their HR and payroll expenses based on their specific requirements. By understanding the advantages and considering the factors that influence the choice between the two pricing structures, businesses can make informed decisions that align with their needs and budgeting preferences.

The per-employee model is based on a cost-per-headcount basis. Businesses are charged a specific fee for each employee they have, which covers the cost of the HR services provided by the PEO. This model is particularly beneficial for businesses with fluctuating or seasonal staffing needs , as they only pay for the HR services they actually use. The per-employee model allows businesses to scale their HR services up or down as needed, providing flexibility and cost-efficiency.

2. Burden Rate or Bundled Pricing Model for PEO Pricing

Another common PEO pricing model is the Burden Rate or Bundled Pricing model. This model consolidates various HR services into a single bundled cost, known as the burden rate. This comprehensive pricing structure is designed to simplify the billing process and provide businesses with a holistic HR solution.

How does it work?

Under the Burden Rate or Bundled Pricing model, businesses are charged a fixed percentage of their total payroll costs to cover a range of HR services. The burden rate typically includes expenses such as payroll taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, employee benefits administration, and compliance management.

Rather than paying separate fees for each individual service, businesses pay a single bundled cost that encompasses all of these HR solutions. This allows for predictability and streamlines the billing process, making it easier for businesses to manage their HR expenses.

Benefits of the Bundled Pricing Model

The Burden Rate or Bundled Pricing model offers several benefits for businesses:

  1. Simplified Billing: With the bundled pricing structure, businesses receive one invoice that covers multiple HR services, reducing administrative hassle and simplifying the payment process.
  2. Comprehensive HR Solution: The bundled pricing model provides access to a wide range of HR services, including payroll taxes, employee benefits management, top-tier retirement plans, and compliance assistance. This comprehensive solution ensures that businesses have all their HR needs met in a single package.
  3. Cost Predictability: By charging a fixed percentage of total payroll costs, the burden rate offers businesses cost predictability. This makes it easier to budget and plan for HR expenses, as there are no unexpected or fluctuating fees.
  4. Time and Resource Savings: With bundled pricing, businesses can save time and resources that would otherwise be spent on managing multiple vendors or tracking individual service fees. This allows business owners and HR teams to focus on core business activities.

9 Benefits of Partnering with a PEO to Optimize your HR

Take our deep-dive into how a PEO may be able to save your business time and money with all your HR needs.


While the Bundled Pricing model has its advantages, businesses should consider the following factors:

  1. Scale of HR Services: One of the main advantages of a PEO is the ability to access a wide range of HR services and expertise. With a bundled pricing model, businesses can take advantage of services such as payroll processing, benefits administration, compliance support, HR technology (HRIS), and much more. It’s important to assess the specific needs of your business and ensure that the bundled pricing package includes the necessary HR services to support your operations effectively.
  2. Increase in Payroll Costs: While a PEO can provide valuable HR services, it’s essential to consider the impact on payroll costs. With a bundled pricing model, businesses typically pay a fixed fee per employee. This can be beneficial for companies with a large workforce or those experiencing growth, as the cost per employee may decrease with a bundled pricing structure. However, it’s important to carefully assess the pricing structure and compare it to your current payroll costs to ensure that the bundled pricing model is cost-effective for your business.
  3. Customization Flexibility: Another consideration when evaluating a PEO bundled pricing model is the level of customization flexibility available. Every business has unique HR needs, and it’s important to ensure that the bundled pricing package can be customized to align with your specific requirements. This may include the ability to add or remove specific HR services, adjust service levels, or tailor the package to meet your business’s evolving needs. Make sure to discuss customization options with the PEO provider to ensure that the bundled pricing model can be adapted to fit your business’s unique needs.

Summing Up The “Bundled” Pricing Model

The Burden Rate or Bundled Pricing model simplifies the billing process and provides businesses with a comprehensive HR solution by consolidating various services into a single bundled cost. By understanding the advantages and considering the factors involved, businesses can determine if the bundled pricing model aligns with their HR needs, budget, and customization requirements.

Factors Affecting PEO Pricing

Several factors can influence the pricing of PEO services. These factors include:

Number of Employees

The size of your workforce will impact the cost of PEO services. Generally, the more employees you have, the higher the cost.


Different industries have different HR needs and compliance requirements. PEO pricing may vary based on the complexity of these needs.

Services Included

The scope of HR services included in the PEO package will affect pricing. A more comprehensive package with additional services will typically have higher costs.

Level of Customization

Some businesses may require more tailored HR solutions. PEOs may offer customizable packages, but this customization may come with an additional cost and is typically for larger applications..

Geographic Location

PEO pricing can differ based on the region or state where your business operates. Factors such as local labor laws and cost of living can impact pricing.

How to Choose a PEO: The Ultimate Guide

Visit our ultimate guide to learn how to choose the right PEO for your own business needs.

Getting Price Quotes from PEOs

To get an accurate understanding of PEO pricing and find the best fit for your business, it’s important to request price quotes from multiple PEOs. When requesting quotes, provide detailed information about your business, including the number of employees, industry, and specific HR needs. This will allow PEOs to provide you with tailored pricing information.

Additionally, consider asking about any bundled or unbundled pricing options. Some PEOs may offer bundled packages that include a range of HR services, while others may offer unbundled options that allow businesses to choose only the specific services they need.

When comparing price quotes, it’s essential to look beyond the cost alone. Consider the reputation and experience of the PEO, the level of customer support they provide, and any additional value-added services they offer. It’s also important to assess the security and reliability of their HR systems and technology, as well as their track record of compliance with industry regulations.

By carefully evaluating the pricing models and services offered by different PEOs, businesses can select a solution that aligns with their unique needs and budget. With the right PEO partner, businesses can streamline their HR processes, reduce administrative burdens, and focus on driving growth and success.

Key Points: PEO Pricing

  • The two main pricing models are the “Per Check or Per Employee” (Unbundled) and “Burden Rate” (or Bundled) Pricing.
  • Benefits of the “Unbundled” pricing model includes flexibility, predictable budgeting, transparency, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Benefits of the “Bundled” pricing model includes simplified billing, comprehensive HR solutions, cost predictability, and time and resource savings.


PEO pricing can vary based on factors such as the number of employees, industry, services included, level of customization, and geographic location. To find the best fit for your business, request price quotes from multiple PEOs and consider factors beyond cost alone. By partnering with a reliable and secure PEO, businesses can access comprehensive HR solutions that help drive growth, success, and save time and money.