Global Payroll: Challenges, Services, and Solutions
This comprehensive guide to international payroll shows you everything you need to know about running global payroll – including common challenges, services, solutions. Plus, get a downloadable checklist and list of FAQs to help you choose the best global payroll service provider for you.
In the following sections, we'll dive deep into:
- What international payroll involves
- Its advantages and disadvantages
- The different models you can use
- The services and solutions you can adopt to make it easier for yourself and your worker.
What is global payroll?
- Withholding and social taxes
- Bonuses and commissions
- Benefits (e.g., paid time off)
Global payroll services: What does an international payroll provider do?
Global payroll services vary across providers based on the specific international payroll challenges they address as well as the technology at their disposal. Some providers focus on delivering pay to international workers, while others have developed add-on features.
Plane, for example, is a payroll and HR platform that handles compensation and can also assist with visa and immigration issues for international employees.
Challenges of global payroll
Localization complicationsEach country has laws and regulations governing labor, compensation, and taxation. A company headquartered in California that hires a South African employee permanently based in the Philippines may need to contend with the rules of three different countries. For example, they may need to pay their employee a 13th-month bonus, which is not required in the US.
Laws can also sometimes change abruptly, changing the compensation that must be paid.
Data overwhelmIn cases where multiple countries and workers are involved, the payroll data that must be gathered and interpreted – sans the help of a global payroll provider – can be overwhelming.
If a company has employees in the US, Australia, and Germany, then their payroll team needs to collect and consolidate the following payroll data for each location:
Unless standardized from the outset, global payroll can result in data that is unwieldy and difficult to use.
Privacy and security risksTo process payroll quickly, accurately, and in legal compliance, companies need to collect sensitive information, which is protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US.
Global payroll can pose a risk to data security and the safety of people's personal information because the international context makes it easier to miss or overlook different legal requirements around data collection and processing. There are a few questions that you need to remember when you’re doing global payroll:
Why are you collecting personal data, and do you really need it?
What will you use this data for; is it required by law?
How long will you keep it?
Working with a company like Plane will ensure that you adhere to relevant privacy laws, protecting you from high financial penalties. For example, employers who violate the EU’s GDPR could face fines of up to 20 million euros or 4% of annual revenue, whichever is higher.
Payment requirementsPayment requirements can also be challenging. Not only do different countries have different currencies, but the laws and regulations in each mean that companies sometimes need to pay other local entities (e.g., tax authorities) in addition to the person they hired.
You may also find yourself having to juggle multiple platforms or adhere to multiple payroll deadlines if you’re paying contractors and employees internationally, or US employees in one system and international employees in another. In other words, multiple platforms can be costly and time-consuming – and they come with a higher risk of not meeting payroll deadlines on time, which results in poor experience for your team.
Using one payroll system for domestic W2 employees, international employees, and global contractors makes your process so much easier and faster. For example, Plane has a powerful platform that allows you to run payroll for your entire team simultaneously in 240+ countries, including the US.
What is a global payroll solution?
A truly global payroll solution allows you to overcome all the challenges in the previous section. It lets you streamline your payroll and payments processes for different teams – regardless of location – into one platform. It standardizes and consolidates payroll data from different countries into one system that’s user-friendly but still takes into account the nuances of each worker's case and each country's requirements.
Benefits of global payroll solutions
Using a global payroll solution means that you get to enjoy the following benefits:
Access to expert international payroll knowledge
A global payroll solution like Plane has expert knowledge in multiple countries, allowing you to comply with their employment and taxation laws and regulations.
Global payroll solutions can streamline your processes so that your human resources team spends more time working with your employees than poring over spreadsheets looking for errors. Result? A dramatic increase in morale and productivity.
Increased efficiency and effectiveness
In many cases, implementing an international payroll solution is more efficient and effective than opening a foreign subsidiary, which can cost thousands of dollars and take months to complete.
People want to receive their payment on time. A global payroll partner like Plane will help ensure you don't miss payroll deadlines for your team – wherever they are.
How to choose a global payroll service provider
Ready to work with an international payroll service provider? You need to make sure that your prospective partner:
- Can secure personal information – yours and your workers'
- Has expertise in the countries you plan to expand in or hire from
- Has excellent customer service
- Offers a lot of resources you can employ, such as customized employment contracts
- Can manage payments for workers worldwide
Best practices for global payrollTo master international payroll, you need to follow these steps:
Choose the right service providerPartnering with a global payroll provider means making the right choice depending on your needs – and the needs of the people you seek to hire. Question your prospective partner on their privacy and security protocols, offered services, expertise and experience, customer service, and resources.
Look at reviews by current and former clients on third-party sites, such as G2. Work with a company that fits your needs, budget, and culture.
Prioritize WX – worker experienceYou've heard of UX (i.e., user experience), but have you heard of WX (i.e., worker experience)? A positive worker experience is something you'll need to prioritize if you'd like to master international payroll.
- Pay on time
- Make the process easy and efficient
- Provide responsive customer service and technical support
- Practice honest and transparent communication
Understand worker classificationDo you know if your workers should be classified as employees or contractors? Remember, misclassification has legal and financial repercussions because employees have benefits and entitlements that contractors often don't enjoy.
Protect your company — partner with a global service provider like Plane. We’ve fully supported hiring both employees and contractors from day one. Our team can help you learn the difference between employees and contractors and offer unbiased advice on which option might work best for you.
Take a hybrid approach to remote compensationKeeping your employees happy often starts with a well-thought-out compensation plan. How do you equitably meet the needs of two people doing the same role but who live in different countries?
Plane's own team is distributed across six of the world's seven continents (still working on Antarctica!). Our recommended solution to paying our remote team equitably? Take a hybrid approach to remote compensation. Align with competitive market rates — by region and by role. Then work with an international payroll provider with the appropriate expertise.
Consider whether you need your own entityIt's not always a good idea to open a foreign subsidiary, especially if you only hire one person. Perhaps working with an employer of record (EOR) like Plane is all you need.
For more information on international payroll best practices, read 7 Best Practices to Master International Payroll.
How Plane's powerful platform makes global payroll easy
Plane is familiar with the local laws and regulations governing labor, compensation, and taxation in 240+ countries – helping you comply with important employment regulations and avoid fines.
Plane can standardize and consolidate payroll data from multiple countries, regardless of language or units of measure – making data more manageable and easier to use, reducing the risk of errors, and ensuring accurate and timely payroll processing.
|Privacy and security risks
Plane takes privacy seriously and adheres to important laws, such as the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA in the US. Working with us will help protect you against potential fines for violating these laws and ensure the safety of personal data. It will also help ensure that data collection and processing are compliant with local legal requirements.
Plane can handle multiple currencies and payment requirements in many countries, which:
Plane improves morale and productivity by streamlining your payroll processes, which allows your human resources teams to spend more time doing the irreplaceable work of looking after your employees.
Working with Plane is more efficient and cost-effective than opening a foreign subsidiary, which can cost thousands of dollars and take months to complete.
A global payroll partner like Plane will help ensure you don't miss payroll deadlines for your team – wherever they are.