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A Thorough Guide to International Payroll Processing
Angelica Krauss
October 28, 2022

A Thorough Guide to International Payroll Processing

As the world becomes more globalized, businesses are continuing to expand their operations into foreign countries. A survey conducted by CFO Research with 166 finance chiefs and other senior executives found that 83% of them were considering a remote, global workforce.

While 90% of executives have had some experience with international expansion, 80% agreed that legal, human resources, and tax compliance requirements were holding them back from expanding into new markets.

The best solution is to outsource payroll processing to a third-party provider such as an Employer of Record (EOR). This can help your business focus on its core competencies while also reducing the costs and risks associated with international expansion.

Here we'll discuss international payroll processing and how outsourcing can help you expand your business into new markets.

What is international payroll processing?

International payroll processing refers to the process of making sure that your employees are paid according to local laws in their country. When paying your employees’ salaries, you need to comply with local taxes and withholdings, which differ from country to country.

In order to accomplish this and keep your employees satisfied, you need to understand the laws and regulations of the country where your employees are located. You also need to make sure that you're paying them correctly and on time to avoid any issues.

If you don't take the time to understand how international payroll processing works for each different country, you could end up losing money in compliance fines and damaging your relationship with your employees.  A good Employer of Record (EOR) will handle all these intricacies for you.

How does international payroll compare to the domestic payroll process?

The main difference between the domestic and international payroll processes is that there are additional factors to consider when dealing with an employee who is not in the same country as you. So, if you're planning to hire employees in other countries, here are some extra things to keep in mind when paying your employees:

  • Local employment laws
  • Local data protection laws
  • Local tax & compliance responsibilities
  • Currency exchange rates
  • Employees' work eligibility status

For that reason, global international payroll requires more coordination than domestic. However, it also means you have access to a much larger talent pool, which is a huge advantage if you want to grow your business.

The three phases of international payroll processing

If you're an international business, it's critical that you understand the three phases of payroll processing and how they work together to create a seamless experience for your employees.

1. The setup phase.

This is where all the groundwork is laid out to get your international payroll in order. It involves setting up your country-specific payroll taxes, ensuring that you have all the right documentation and that your systems are ready to go.

You also have to register with the appropriate authorities in each country you plan to operate in. For example, in the United Kingdom that would mean registering with HMRC while in Australia this would mean registering with the ATO.

Additionally, it’s very important to define a clear and transparent payroll policy that is communicated to all employees.

2. The processing phase.

In this stage, you process the actual payroll for your employees. This includes the calculation of their paychecks and depositing them into their bank accounts correctly and on time.

This process should be carried out as often as is stated in the employees' contracts, typically bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly.

3. The reporting phase.

Finally, you should be able to generate reports that show the data from your international payroll processing activities. These reports are typically used by companies for compliance and internal control purposes.

The challenges of international payroll processing

International payroll processing can be challenging for a number of reasons. Not only does it require you to navigate different tax laws and regulations, but it also requires you to manage multiple currencies, keep track of foreign exchange rates, and translate data into multiple languages.

1. Staying compliant.

Compliance involves ensuring your business is operating legally. You will need to make sure that you are staying compliant with local laws and regulations, reporting to the authorities as needed, and making sure every employee is paid on time.

It's important to note that some of these laws might be different from those in your home country, so it's important to do your research before beginning international payroll processing.

2. Lacking expertise.

It can be difficult to find a single person who has all the skills needed to manage an entire payroll process from start to finish in multiple countries.

This could include knowledge of local legislation and how it applies to your business; ensuring all employees are paid accurately and on time; managing compliance requirements; and handling any questions or complaints that may arise in the process.

3. Being aware of multiple tax jurisdictions.

Different countries have different tax regulations, making international payroll processing difficult for employers who don’t know these regulations inside and out.

If an employer does not understand how tax laws affect them and their employees, they could end up paying more taxes than necessary or not withholding enough money from employee paychecks.

4. Keeping up with multiple currencies.

Currency conversions can cause accounting errors if they're not done correctly — especially when dealing with large sums of money or multiple currencies at once.

That's why you'll need to update your payroll system regularly so that it stays up-to-date with current exchange rates and ensures accurate calculations throughout the year.

5. Dealing with language barriers.

It can be difficult to understand financial terms and instructions when they're written in another language. The more languages you have to translate your payroll documents, the higher the cost of doing business.

6. Establishing employee benefits.

The laws surrounding employment contracts and employee benefits vary from one country to another. If you want to offer the same benefits package to all employees globally, then you will need to consider how much this could cost you and whether it's worth it. Read our guide to setting up international benefits and compensation for your employees.

The solution: outsourcing international payroll to an EOR

Getting your international payroll processed by an Employer of Record (EOR) is the best way to ensure the process goes smoothly and that you don’t have to worry about compliance issues or making sure your data is secure.

By outsourcing your global payroll, you can take advantage of the expertise and resources of a specialist team that knows how to handle international tax laws and regulations.

Lower costs.

You can save both time and money by outsourcing your international payroll to an EOR. Time is saved because you don't have to train staff to handle the process in multiple countries, and money is saved because you don't have to establish entities in every country you hire in.

Reduced risk.

When you outsource international payroll processing, you no longer have to worry about complex regulations, such as withholding taxes and payroll duties around the world. Avoid risks such as employee misclassification and get the peace of mind that comes with working with experts.

Improved efficiency.

Outsourcing international payroll processing means that your employees will receive their paychecks quickly and accurately, so they don't have to wait for their money or worry about mistakes when being paid in a different currency. The EOR will handle all aspects of your international payroll processing so that you can get on with running your business.

Increased accuracy and reliability.

With an outsourced international payroll company such as a Remofirst, your employee records will always be up-to-date and accurate because the payroll company will regularly update its database with information from various sources such as paychecks, tax returns, and W-2 forms.

Key Takeaways

When you expand your business internationally, there are many things to consider. Each country has its own laws and rules that must be followed when processing payroll, so it’s important to understand precisely what you need in order to process international payroll.

The benefits of outsourcing international payroll are clear — you’ll have a team of experts who can handle all the administrative tasks involved in processing your payroll, leaving you free to focus on running your business. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure you have all the information and support you need so that you can prioritize your business' growth.

Want to learn more about how to hire and manage a global team via our easy-to-use HRIS platform? Request a demo today to learn how Remofirst can help you easily manage your global remote payroll system.