Best Global Payroll Software & Services - 2023
These are the best international payroll services providers and software vendors, hand-picked for enterprises and small businesses, along with benefits, pitfalls, pricing, and more.
An international payroll company is in the business of helping other businesses compensate their people while staying compliant, regardless of where each worker is. In this day and age, as remote work becomes increasingly commonplace, such an endeavor is best done through software.
A global payroll system lets a company pay and manage benefits for its workers, even if the software vendor also acts as an employer of record for the full-time employees. Ideally, everything from payslips to tax information to health insurance is managed through this platform, as if everyone was in the same city.
So, if you’re looking for a way to pay your remote international workers while having a single source of truth for all that data, you’ve come to the right place. The following companies, some of which have been growing at a 20x rate, are the best when it comes to employing people in different countries, guiding you through the process, and even providing additional HR services and features along the way.
Top Global Payroll Services
We pride ourselves on strict editorial standards and use a thorough process to vet and review software before we publish it on the site (and in fact, most vendors we have to end up rejecting). This process includes having our team of HR and recruiting experts use the tool themselves, getting user feedback, and then evaluating the vendor on key metrics like their financial health, customer retention, and responsiveness to customer queries. You can read more about how we evaluate vendors here.
"SelectSoftware Reviews is the best platform to discover top 1% HR tools. Their 10 years of HR Tech experience makes their reviews the best in the industry! Every time I speak about HR technology, SSR is my number one recommendation to for people pros."
"SelectSoftware Reviews is my go-to place when it comes to researching HR tools. Their product reviews are real time-savers and trustworthy, and the online community is fantastic for bouncing questions and ideas off of others in the Talent space!"
"I trust SelectSoftware Reviews's HR Tech Reviews because they talk to so many experts, know the right questions to ask and uncover during in-depth product demos to come up with their best picks"
Deel can manage payroll compliance in 150+ countries and has a notably easy-to-use interface, using one platform for all countries.
- One of the best features of Deel is its customer service. They offer 24/7 in-app support and the fastest-in-class onboarding speed of 2-3 days. Users get access to local payroll experts in each jurisdiction, and support is available for contractors facing challenges setting themselves up as an LLC.
- Integrates seamlessly with common platforms like Quickbooks, Bamboo, Greenhouse, and more. They also offer custom integrations to automate and sync processes.
- Self-service approach; tech-enabled features so customers can jump in quickly and easily. Our user researchers found it quite easy to set up: the identity verification process consistently took less than 24 hours, and in some cases, it took mere minutes.
- Automated invoices, which are a breeze to do as long as they’re in English, both on the company and the contractor or employee’s side.
- Some of Deel’s best and most powerful services, like onboarding automation, appear to be add-ons, which might be too costly for some companies
- There is little to no flexibility when it comes to altering their contracts or service agreements, so many changes would require an addendum.
- There is a $5 fee per payout
- As far as we’ve seen, it’s not possible to generate invoices in another language.
With Deel, companies can hire employees in a multitude of countries without it getting messy. From the same dashboard, you can manage international payroll, benefits, taxes, and compliance in over 150 countries.
Deel was one of the first companies to offer global payroll as their primary service. Their composite of contractor and freelancer management + EOR and PEO capabilities, as well as their sleek design, made them stand out early in the category's history.
Nowadays, they’re also notable for having expanded their tool quite a bit, adding Core HR capabilities to their platform. Other newer Deel features include immigration support, background checks, and their Shield module, devised to protect you against compliance issues.
A cool thing about Deel is that you can sign up for free and play around with the tool, not being charged until you pay your first team member. Once you do, pricing for Deel will vary as follows:
- Contractors: At $49 per contractor per month, Deel takes care of payroll and compliance for contracts in 150 countries.
- Full-time: From $500, this plan lets you hire full-time employees in a new country without having to set up a legal entity there. Deel becomes an Employer of Record and hires the employee for you.
Companies, big or small, who wish to stay compliant when hiring people in multiple countries. Great for those who wish for an EOR / contractor management balance.
Papaya Global made our list of best global payroll software providers for enabling distributed teams to legally auto-pay contractors and employees in 160+ countries while making sure their data is protected by leading security and compliance software.
- Papaya’s full-service payroll guaranteed payouts in 72 hours in over 160 countries.
- It has a straightforward pricing system with a 60-day money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with the platform’s performance.
- Offers a dedicated customer success manager or global payroll expert in your time zone who assists you in the local timezone and language. You also get access to their in-house specialists on global employment in 160 countries without extra fees.
- The latest starter monthly fee for the full-service payroll plan has dropped to $12 per employee (the previous one was $20).
- Provides four individual solutions (data and insights, supplemental benefits & immigration support, payment services, and employee data management) at an affordable starter price.
- Lacks local entities in the countries where it sells services. We found no information regarding its tax penalty guarantee either.
- Doesn’t offer a free trial or free plan.
- There are a few additional fees, including a set-up fee per location, an onboarding fee, a cycle fee per employee, and a year-end fee for tax filing. There’s also a required deposit (refundable).
- There aren’t many existing integrations, but you can use the platform’s pre-built APIs, SFTP, and custom API integrations for free.
Papaya Global is loved by several users we have talked to and also by our editorial team. It is one of a few vendors that provide a straightforward pricing point (no one likes hidden fee surprises!), a solid set of HR tools, robust BI analytics reporting, and in-country customer support.
We appreciate how the platform has kept both employers and staff in mind when developing its HR tools. As an employer, Papaya Global gives you access to payroll, payments, and workforce analytics in one unified platform. The global payroll software provides automated payments in local currency, country-tailored benefit packages, pay slips in the languages of employees across over 160 countries, and AI-based engines to audit invoices for payment accuracy. Papaya Global backs you with in-house benefits experts who advise you on the soundest plans for specific locations without costing you extra. As an employee, there is a self-service portal you can easily access and navigate through. You can find onboarding documents there, request time off, check your docs, and review payslips. The newly launched mobile app (February 2023) will soon allow you to do these things, plus access payment calendars, bank details, and company announcements on the go.
Papaya Global’s global equity management is another thing that sets it apart from other payroll software. With this tool, you can offer equity to employees as part of their compensation, regardless of their location. As we mentioned earlier, the platform does a great job of providing advanced analytics reporting. By "advanced," we mean that you can access dynamic and visual insights into not just payroll, but also HR, billing, and admin data.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when considering Papaya Global as your global payroll software. First and foremost, Papaya Global does not own any local entity where it provides services. The platform relies entirely on its third-party local partners. While its pricing is transparent, there are additional costs besides the plan’s price, including a set-up fee per location, onboarding fee, cycle fee per employee, year-end fee for tax filing, and refundable deposit. It is worth getting in touch with Papaya Global’s team to get a full quote for your specific requirements to evaluate the platform further.
Microsoft, Intel, Toyota, Wix, Fiverr, Johnson & Johnson, Deezer
Papaya Global has just added four standalone services to its offerings besides the three plans:
- Full-Service Payroll service: It starts from $20 per employee per month, depending on your operation. It includes its advanced payroll platform, embedded payments, global partner network, and employee portal.
- Payroll Platform License service: Starting from $20 per employee per location, it is for businesses that need to upgrade their payroll and payments tech without replacing the current payroll partners.
- Data and Insights Platform License service: Starting from $150 per employee per month, it includes tools for real-time analytics on payroll costs and headcount.
- Payments-as-a-Service service: Starting from $3 per employee per month, it provides an embedded platform designed for workforce payment.
- Global EOR plan: This plan is between $770 and $1000 per employee per month and lets you manage all your EOR locations on one platform.
- Contractor Management & IC Compliance plan: Particular services are outsourced to a domestic or foreign contractor for periods of rapid growth and the need to reduce labor costs. This plan starts at $25 per employee per pay cycle.
- Payroll Intelligence Suite plan: This plan lets you consolidate all workforce and payroll data from all your operations into a single dashboard, priced at $250 for an annual plan or $320 quarterly per location.
Those that want to automate global payroll in countries where they have entities can benefit from Papaya Global. The platform is also a go-to payroll software for businesses whose international hires (employees, contractors) are based within Papaya Global’s country coverage.
Among several global payrolls in the market, Oyster stands out for being flexible enough to manage payroll in over 120 currencies while integrating features for expense reimbursement, time-off request, and bonuses.
- Oyster’s global payroll supports salary payouts in over 120 currencies.
- Transparent pricing structure. It also offers a free version. Anyone can sign up to explore the platform, help docs, and HR tools.
- Provides transparent flat rates for employees and contractors and a tool that can quickly calculate potential costs and risks of hiring in a new country.
- Whether your employees are in one country or 100, Oyster can accommodate them accordingly, and this is a feature few platforms can boast of.
- Helpful customer support and help center. Thorough guidance on global employment (available for only the highest-priced plan, though).
- Intuitive: The platform is easy to navigate and makes logical sense.
- competitively priced: The flat rate for employees and contractors makes cost comparisons simple, and is competitive in the market.
- Targeted for a remote workforce: Whether your employees are in one country or 100, Oyster can accommodate them accordingly, and this is a feature few platforms can boast.
- Oyster’s built-in integrations are pretty limited compared to other similar options in the market. But the platform does offer API access for custom integrations.
- There may be some salary delays in transfers.
- Only supports bank transfers for payments.
- Monthly pricing varies by where the employees are based.
- The integration options are rather limited with Oyster and so there’s a chance it may not be compatible with your organization's HRIS or other software.
- A few users reported delays in transfers so that’s something to watch out for.
- If you’re looking to co-employ your employees and partially outsource HR responsibilities, Oyster isn’t for you. They are more of an Employer or Record (EOR) rather than a Professional Employer Organizations (PEO).
Among several options in the space, Oyster is flexible enough to manage payroll in multiple currencies and locations globally and has integrated features for expense reimbursement for traveling employees. Running payroll on Oyster was easy. We could process both employee and contractor payroll in one platform and choose the preferred currency and payroll frequency (monthly/bimonthly), depending on country payroll regulations. We’re also happy with its simplicity in managing tax withholding and accounting. While Oyster did well in ensuring employees working under different currencies are paid correctly and compliantly, we wished to see more withdrawal options in the platform rather than just bank transfers.
Oyster is one of a few vendors that can accommodate teams hiring people in over 180 countries. The platform also provides a self-service portal where employees can request time off and reimbursements. We liked that each time one submitted a request, we instantly saw it in Oyster’s admin dashboard, highlighted under the Requiring Attention section. Related tools like the cost calculator, global recruitment guides, and invoice management were placed right in the dashboard, making it easier to access and get the needed help.
Some of Oyster's customers are Juno, Demodesk, Chili Piper, Quora, Wagestream, Impala, and Grover.
Oyster has three pricing plans:
- Contractor: It starts at $29 per contractor per month and includes hiring contractors in 180+ countries, drafting, editing, signing compliant contracts, processing invoices, and paying contractors in 120+ currencies.
- Employee: The plan starts at $499 per employee per month when billed annually and includes features for hiring full-timers in 120+ countries with compliance and liability coverage, automation, IP protection, global payroll, expenses, allowances, and bonuses in 120+ countries.
- Scale: The plan has custom pricing and includes a discounted rate, dedicated client service, and support to navigate global employment and bulk hiring.
- Local benefits plans are provided as add-ons for Employee and Scale plans.
- You can create an account, explore the platform, and access Oyster’s HR tools and resources for free. You’ll only pay once you’ve engaged a team member.
- Discounts are available for nonprofits and businesses hiring refugees.
Distributed teams whose current and future contractors, employees, or both are based in countries listed on Oyster’s 120+ country coverage. Nonprofits and businesses looking to hire refugees in countries where Oyster has local entities would also benefit from the platform’s special discounts.
Multiplier’s global payroll solution helps you process payroll in over 120 currencies. You can also use the platform to administer benefit plans, give bonuses and grant equity to employees, among many other things.
- Multiplier offers a comprehensive platform that combines compliance, payroll, onboarding, and timesheets, providing a streamlined solution for managing these aspects.
- The platform supports multi-currency payments in over 150 countries, facilitating global business operations.
- Instantly generated multi-lingual contracts enhance efficiency and convenience for users.
- Multi-currency payments in local currencies
- Multi-lingual contracts made instantly
- Compliance, payroll, onboarding, and timesheets, all in one platform
- Integration options are currently limited, with Multiplier only integrating with BambooHR for HCM-type tools as of Summer 2022. However, they are actively working on expanding their integrations.
- Customers have expressed a desire for more customization options, particularly in relation to contract clauses and leave types, to better align with their specific needs.
- Some users have reported experiencing slow response times from the customer support team.
- Limited integrations. As of Summer 2022, Multiplier only integrates with BambooHR for HCM-type tools, although they are working on adding more.
Multiplier’s self-service global payroll solution is worth checking out if you’re looking to pay employees and contractors in local currencies and in compliance with local laws in over 150 countries.
Through the platform, employees and contractors can submit invoices for completed work for you to review and approve within the agreed-upon frequency. Employees are also able to access their payslips and contracts and track expense requests, bonuses, and other benefits from their accounts, which is quite handy.
From the employer side (admin account), you’re able to track the attendance of your global workforce, approve leave requests, and review timesheets for more context into what invoices/billable time are for.
Besides global payments, you can do quite a bit through Multiplier’s EoR platform, including hiring and onboarding employees, as well as giving them local health insurance and optional benefits such as bonuses and stock options.
Amazon, Fusion, Graphisoft, ServiceNow, Linklaters, and Korn Ferry are a few of the companies that use Multiplier’s global employment solution.
Multiplier’s pricing depends on who you’re hiring and paying; employees or freelancers. You get to cancel anytime, and no credit card is required for initial sign-up.
Be aware that apart from the mentioned plans, the employee insurance package is priced seperately. The basic coverage plan starts at $20 per employee per month, and the pricing may vary depending on the level of additional coverage required. Furthermore, pricing may also differ based on the geographical location.
Moreover, Global Payroll is offered as a standalone product suitable for businesses regardless of whether they have local entities or not. The pricing for Global Payroll also begins at $20 per employee per month
Multiplier is a better choice for companies looking to hire their global workforce in the Asia-Pacific region, although they don’t operate there exclusively. Their features are beneficial to startups, mid-sized businesses, and enterprises. An example of this is the variety of contracts they are able to handle, whether it’s for supporting an on-demand workforce, fixed term, full-time, and more.
Rippling stands out from other global payroll companies because it handles every aspect of the payment process. Very few global payroll companies directly administer all of the steps needed to pay employees across the globe.
- Nested within HRIS
- Hire, pay, and manage people under a single system of record
- All-in-one platform for employee management + PEO services offered, and even a suite of other IT products
- With 500 integrations, it’s very likely that they integrate with other key tools from your tech stack.
- Operates globally with any currency
- Workflow automation
- Analytics opportunities
- Provides a holistic view of company outflows—headcount costs included
- Not advisable for very small companies with slow growth
- While you can buy a base tier and add payroll, the real “magic” of this system requires total immersion in the Rippling environment
- Total buy-in to Rippling is essential
- Very SMB-oriented, in case you’re a larger company.
- New features tend to be buggy in ways that tech teams are not accustomed to fixing
Rippling went the extra mile on their global payroll product. They solved a business problem better and before anyone else in their weight class. At this point in their growth, they are agile enough to move quickly, but have just enough mass and inertia to put thousands of hours of labor into doing a complex thing right.
As we pointed out before, Rippling’s global payroll suite stands out from other global payroll companies because it handles every aspect of the payment process; from tracking hours to calculating and filing taxes. Very few global payroll companies directly administer these kinds of steps while also offering a full HRMS to plug it with.
With the exception of payroll titans like Workday, most businesses offering global payroll services are actually “aggregators” of other businesses– they arrange connections between an array of third-party vendors who are unified under one company name. This has some serious drawbacks. Like a game of telephone, a lot can be lost in translation as data is passed from one entity to another.
Built-in is better. This feature’s proximity to the HRIS means the integration process is simple. According to Rippling, it takes “about 90 seconds” to set up an employee for global payroll if you’re already using Rippling. Being built-in also results in seamless access across all dimensions of employee information.
Remote global payroll software enables employers to hire and pay contractors and employees in locations around the world. They also offer IP protection, data security, 24/7 localized customer service, and ample platform customization.
- Flat fee structure. No deposit is required (conditions apply), and there is no extra charge for benefits administration.
- Mobile apps are user-friendly and frequently updated.
- 24/7 local support via email and live chat.
- Equity-based compensation available.
- Helpful HR tools and global employment guidelines are free to access via Remote’s website.
- It may be out of reach for small teams with limited budgets.
- Only supports direct deposit and wire transfers, and no off-cycle pay runs.
- No phone support is available.
- Remote has limited pre-built integrations, but you can access its custom API for free.
Remote is one of our top picks for global payroll solutions.
Remote offers localized payroll services, handling benefits administration, payroll processing, and contractor payments. Remote owns legal entities in more than 60 countries, so it’s one of the most effective solutions for growing teams who employ and pay international employees and independent contractors.
As an Employer of Record (EOR), Remote handles employment's administrative and legal aspects, like payroll processing, benefits administration, tax, and legal compliance. For those who have handled tasks like these close to home, it’s not difficult to imagine how profoundly complicated and error-prone global payroll is. With the help of Remote, companies can focus on doing their actual work, whatever that may be, rather than learning the intricacies of payroll across the planet.
Arduino, GitLab, Paystack, Loom, cargo.one, Secureframe, Phaidra.
- Contractor Management plan: $29/contractor/mo
- Employer of Record plan: $599/employee/mo (when paid annually)
- Global Payroll and Remote Enterprise plans: Custom prices – contact Remote.
- Startup and nonprofit discount: Eligible startups and nonprofits can get 15% off EOR and Contractor Management services for 12 months.
- Refugee discount: Up to 10 employees free when hiring refugees
Great pick for either remote-first businesses or those with distributed workforces.
ADP GlobalView is the solution for international payroll from one of the most reputable and long-standing companies in the space.
If you intend to manage global payroll for thousands of employees, ADP’s GlobalView should be on your list of vendors to consider. The payroll giant has put together a solution that’s specific to big businesses, providing them with a single system to unify all global employee payroll data while letting you stay compliant.
For this product, ADP also operates with local experts. You can process payroll yourself, or outsource most of the back office payroll functions to ADP’s team. Finally, GlobalView works only in 40 countries, but it can be combined with ADP Celergo to extend their coverage to up to 140 nations.
Among others, ADP’s global payroll solution is used by the likes of PayPal.
Like with most ADP products, pricing details aren’t available online, since they’ll likely provide a custom quote once you request and have a demo.
Large enterprises that want a single place from where to manage an international workforce.
Globalization Partners are the makers of a global Employer of Record platform, putting together professional services and AI for more than just payroll.
Globalization Partners combines professional HR and global payroll services with an AI-driven platform. Through their offering, you can hire team members in any of the 187 countries they operate in. Their platform & services go well beyond payroll, helping with onboarding, managing, benefits, and compliance.
Since they own a business entity in almost every country on earth, they can let you hire talent globally within a matter of days. Naturally, all this is done without you having to handle any legal, tax, or HR burdens yourself.
Pricing details are not provided by Globalization Partners. The best way forward is to request a demo and they’ll work with you to provide a custom quote.
Companies that want an employer of record provider with a platform to manage it all.
TFY packs features for applicant tracking, freelance management, payroll and more in a single platform. Not only that, but the platform supports diversity hiring, and can support you in planning and running a host of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
- TFY offers features for applicant tracking, freelance management, payroll and more in a single platform.
- TFY’s platform supports diversity hiring, and can support you in planning and running a host of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
- TFY has simple and transparent pricing which is something software users always appreciate.
- According to user feedback, TFY’s UI feels outdated and takes some time to get used to.
- Interested users cannot create trial accounts on their own from TFY’s website.
- TFY doesn’t have prebuilt integration modules, but they do offer API access to connect with tools in your tech stack.
- TFY currently doesn’t have a mobile app.
TFY’s global payroll solution allows you to transfer payouts to your employees and independent contractors in over 150+ countries and over 130 currencies, including more than 20 cryptocurrencies. You won’t need to collect and store bank account details or monitor foreign currency exposures. Simply define the frequency for recurring payments, number of payouts, etc. All of these capabilities and more can be combined with TFY’s Employer of Record services and Vendor Management System, so you can hire seamlessly beyond your borders and have better visibility over your external workforce.
TFY serves companies of different industries. Some of their most notable customers are Zigurat Business School, Exante, Kissflow, WeWork, Revolut, B-caused, and RedHat.
TFY price their ATS and FMS separately as follows:
- FMS: $5 per team member, billed monthly. This includes everything you need to manage and pay remote teams, consultants, and freelancers.
- ATS: $50 per posted job. This plan provides insights into candidates’ skills and salary expectations.
TFY is best suited for companies looking to hire and manage over 100 freelancers. The platform would also make a good addition to companies looking to implement CSR activities.
Workday is one of the most popular human resources software products out there, with an international payroll solution for the US, Canada, the UK, and France.
Workday is one of the best human capital management suites, particularly for large enterprises. Although it is true that their reputation is not the best with users and the HR teams that have to implement the solution, if you’re in need of a product that can scale, checks the necessary IT/Infosec boxes, and can be implemented across large global companies, Workday’s software solutions are worth looking into.
Further, although they only offer payroll processing for the aforementioned countries, they can integrate with other providers in order to expand their coverage. The integration with Activpayroll, for instance, can let you hire people in over 140 countries through the same solution.
- Quicken Loans
- Bank of America
- General Electric
The exact pricing details of Workday aren’t provided by the vendor, since they’ll likely tailor their offer to your business size and needs. They also don’t offer a free trial, but you can see the tool for yourself through their demo videos online.
Large enterprises looking for a global payroll solution within a broader HCM suite.
Atlas is an EOR and HR services-focused global payroll provider. They work well for teams of all sizes and offer a good combination of in-house expertise and a functional tech platform.
- Hire people through direct EOR entities in 160+ countries.
- They are a services-focused company with the tech to back it. For example, with the help of a locally-versed expert to guide you through the process, you can onboard employees and process their payroll in any of the 160+ countries they cover – and it can all be done online.
- Strong focus on compliance: regulations, taxes, local labor laws, etc.
- Atlas has legal entities in over 160 countries. They’ll help you take care of employee onboarding and payroll processing in any of those countries, eliminating the need to engage any local service providers.
- The platform simplifies how you hire, manage and pay employees and contractors abroad, without needing to set up an operation where they are located.
- Atlas helps you stay compliant with local labor laws and frees you from employer liability.
- Some users noted communication with support can be tricky. An individual expert (or one representing a small team) may be involved in addressing compliance issues specific to a geographic region. Though this has been reported to slow the process, our reviews suggest ongoing improvements.
- No native integrations, but they do have API
- Atlas currently doesn’t offer global managed payroll for non-employer of record (EoR) clients; so if your company doesn't need Atlas to take on from you as EoR, but need to use Atlas' global payroll services, you can't do so at this time. Do note though that the team at Atlas is planning to offer this service next year.
- Atlas currently has limited prebuilt integration modules but they do offer API access for users to plug in third-party tools.
Atlas is a comprehensive global payroll and direct employer of record (EOR) solution that empowers businesses to hire and compensate talent across the globe effortlessly. We’ve seen a demo of Atlas and tried the tool, finding them a solid company to entrust with your legal employer responsibilities.
What does this mean? We found that Atlas can dependably manage most of the operations aspects of the employee life cycle, for several employees, in several countries, from a single platform.
Atlas is used by over a thousand companies, including Toyota, CACI, Bath & Body Works, Coupa, PAE, and Namely.
- Essential: For $99 per month, this plan encompasses features and services that help users navigate the labor & employment laws in over 160 countries (+50 US States), manage employee lifecycle, compliance information between countries, be compliant with their accounting for travel and business expenses, receive personalized notifications, as well as have moderate access to expert insights and HR templates (which are priced separately).
- Premium: For $149 per month, this plan packs everything in the Essentials plan, plus compliance audit interactive checks, people analytics and planning features as well as dedicated account management.
- Enterprise: The pricing of this plan varies according to the number of purchased licenses and customer needs. You can reach out to Atlas’ Sales team for a custom price quote.
- Contractor Pay: Starting at $49 per contractor per month
- Employer of Record: $595 per employee per month
- Visa & Mobility Sponsorship: Starting at $2,500 per visa
Companies of all sizes would find an ally in Atlas, but it’s especially good for those looking for a service-oriented offering rather than a DIY, employee-driven, self-service platform.
Why Use Global Payroll Software
Multi-country payroll software is necessary when businesses of any size want to pay people abroad while staying fully-compliant in each country. It’s not just about being able to process payments internationally, since there are a myriad of solutions for that (some of them used by international payroll companies), but about being able to run payroll in multiple countries as if you had a registered company in each of the nations that at least one of your employees calls home.
Now, one could argue that you would be able to do just that by having a payroll provider or a PEO/EOR in each country. However, global payroll software takes it to the next level, since it avoids the extra costs and logistical headaches of having multiple providers to deal with, while lacking a central repository from where to manage them all, and the data inherent to payroll processing.
Of course, this also implies that each worker will be paid in their local currency. It also means that they’ll get all the benefits that are required by law in their country, as if they worked for a local company. These can include social security, health insurance, retirement fund, disability, and more. It also means that taxes are handled for them, all from the same tool. This is what global payroll software vendors mean when they tout full compliance.
Key Considerations & Pitfalls of Multi-Country Payroll
If this sounds somewhat complex, that’s because the process itself— paying employees worldwide— certainly is complex. Nevertheless, with the right software, it can be quite simple. There are just certain considerations that you need to have before assuming that the right solution will do the heavy lifting for you.
- Knowing local laws: Just because a software company / services provider will be doing the work for you, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of what that work is. Like with any good manager, delegating doesn’t mean ignoring. As an employer or HR professional, you should know which laws and regulations you need to adhere to in each country where you’ll be paying someone. This not only helps with making sure that you’re staying compliant through the tool. It also aids when creating a budget, deciding whether to hire someone or not, shifting from contractor status to full-time, etc.
Note: Luckily here, most of the top vendors put together resources to educate their user base on this. We mentioned Globalization Partners’ Globalpedia above, but there’s also Papaya Global’s super-detailed CountryPedia, Remote’s Country Explorer, and Deel’s Global Hiring Guide, to name a few.
- Know your costs: While fees for some of these international payroll companies may seem high, it helps to try and calculate how much you’d spend if you choose to go with individual providers in each country, or even set up an operation there and handle it in-house. That should help determine how much is reasonable to spend on the project, instead of trying to find the lowest-cost provider. Among these costs, you should also consider the fines that you would incur in if you stay non-compliant, or even the potential cost of churn if your employees and/or contractors leave you for not providing the full-range of benefits.
- Loading the project mainly into HR: Traditionally, human resources departments tend to have little time, lots of work, and not many idle hands. Looking to them to solve the conundrum of international payroll all by themselves and stick to a budget is one way of making sure that the project’s outcome will be subpar. When choosing a global payroll solution, you should look towards those that do the most automation and outsourcing, freeing up some of HR’s time while keeping them on the loop. Also, choosing said solution should be taken into the hands of the finance team and upper management as well, since it is, after all, an investment.
- Be mindful of data protection: Data protection laws, especially GDPR, should be one of your concerns if you’re planning on hiring people in new markets. When trusting a software company with your employees’ personal data, you should know which laws are being obeyed when it comes to said data’s safe-keeping. You should also know what kind of practices are put into keeping it safe, beyond the legal requirements.
Pricing: What Global Payroll Solutions Cost
Most multinational payroll providers charge a fee per full-time employee and a smaller fee for contractors. While not every vendor discloses its initial pricing scheme online, since many will provide a custom quote upon requesting a demo, we’ve put together the following chart for your convenience:
Note: All figures are in USD.
Worried about pricing? Check out our eBook on how to get the best possible pricing when buying HR tech.
Key Components of Global Payroll Software
When we speak about global payroll, it means much more than paying people internationally, likely with a money transfer company, and using a different system to manage and onboard them. In the full sense of the term, global payroll should let you do all this while offering the following services or payroll models:
- Global employment services: This is when you don’t own a business entity where your remote employees live, so the provider will be employing your workers on your behalf acting as an Employer of Record. This is essential if you intend to hire people full-time in a country and you don’t plan on opening a new branch where they live. Precisely because of that, it’s a good way to go if you plan on hiring as little as 1 person or a bigger team.
Through this model, you'll get access to a team of payroll experts that are well-versed on the local regulations when it comes to hiring international employees. A thing to note here is that many of the companies in the global payroll space don't actually own the EOR entities they use, but work with local firms in each country and aggregate their services in a software tool that presents it all as a streamlined version for you. While this can certainly work, we've been seeing more companies own as much EOR providers as they can (or only use the ones they own), in order to reduce risks and simplify payroll operations for everyone.
- Contractor payment services: On the other hand, we have the case where you have a worker, or workers, abroad, but either side prefers contractor status as opposed to full-time employment. Essentially, this means that the worker acts more as a service provider and is legally a self-employed person. An international payroll company should also offer this type of service, with a key component being the assurance of full legal compliance.
In other words, a global payroll provider (or contractor management tool, in this case) not only helps with managing payments to an international contractor, but ensures that all the local legal requirements of working with said worker are met and avoids non-compliance. If you plan to hire people overseas solely on this model, do check out our pick of the top freelance management systems.
- Localized payroll services: Then we have the case of a company having a legal entity in a country, but needing a payroll solution anyway. Naturally, most global payroll providers can help with this as well, since they don’t need to employ the workers for you in order to process payroll for them. In that case, they’re able to handle payroll and benefits just like any local payroll provider would, while you are the legal employer of your people and thus responsible for the legal obligations that stem from that relationship.
As you probably imagine, multi-country payroll partners can offer a mix and match of these services, letting you choose different methods for different countries depending on what’s more comfortable and efficient for you at the moment. If you're unsure as to whether you will stick with hiring people overseas on a contractor status, or eventually move into an EOR model, we'd recommend looking at tools that offer a good mix of both. One way in which this software category has evolved is in having more players in the space that offer both models instead of focusing exclusively on one.
The same goes for the number of capabilities that an international payroll provider can offer. Some of these cloud-based tools now also include a fully-working HRMS, a benefits administration suite, or even an IT management product in the case of Rippling.
Demo Questions: What To Ask To International Payroll Companies
As with any software purchase, once you select 2-3 options for your global payroll provider, you should give each of them a try, likely through a demo, and maybe even by doing a free trial. With both scenarios, it’s a good idea to step into the process with a list of the key questions you need to answer in hand.
To put this list together, you should consult each stakeholder within your team, including remote employees and contractors overseas. This list should reflect your unique business needs when it comes to employing people in different countries, but we’ve put together a basic list to get you started:
- Which countries do we need payroll in, or do we plan on needing payroll in, and in which of those do we need the full service, such as EoR?
- What kind of benefits would I like to offer to my global workforce?
- What are the key features I want to try out and validate?
- What kind of workflows are possible and maybe automated?
- How will this solution fit into the rest of my tech stack and therefore what integrations do I need?
- How will others in the organization use this solution?
- How can this tool improve the experience of our workers?
- What are the things that would make me or my coworkers nervous about switching our current processes to this platform?
- How is employee data kept safe if trusted to this vendor?
- What conclusions can I start to make about the quality of customer support? Is there a help center? Are the support articles clear and easy to read?
- How will this solution fit our current plans for global expansion?
Alternatives to Global Payroll Software
We’ll now expand into one of the points we touched upon above: what are your alternatives if you decide that global payroll software is not the way to go for you just yet? Mainly, these are the two following:
- Payroll services: Most of the vendors we mentioned offer a combination of payroll services and a platform from where to manage and keep track of them. But of course, you could also opt for partnering with a company and letting them take care of it themselves. This likely requires that you get more familiar with each kind of payroll service and the type of fees they charge. It will also likely require much more direct communication with those payroll professionals.
- Money transfer companies: The other option is to just solve the issue of international money transfer. If your contractors overseas are okay with handling taxes & benefits themselves, this can be a less costly and time-consuming option, particularly helpful while you figure out what to do in the long term. There are many ways to pay people internationally these days, but we’ve put together some of the more convenient and trustworthy ones:
Global Payroll FAQs
What is Global Payroll?
The term “global payroll” refers to the compensation that a company needs to make to its foreign employees, independent contractors, and freelancers. Typically handled by the HR or finance departments, it includes salaries, tax withholdings, invoicing, benefits, bonuses, PTO, overtime, commissions, and of course, international bank transfers.
What is an EOR?
EOR stands for ‘Employer of Record’. It is an essential component of an international compliant payroll, since it’s what most providers use in order to be the legal employer of a worker in their country. Through this practice, a company doesn’t need to set up a legal entity in that country in order to stay compliant with the local labor laws. If you'd like to focus on EOR providers, check out our roundup of the best EOR services. If you're curious about what's a PEO and how it compares to an EOR, read on.
What is a PEO?
Essentially, a PEO is a company that offers a wider range of HR services to other businesses, including payroll operations, of course, but also benefits administration, HR consulting, hiring, onboarding, and even training. This can be really helpful for companies that don't have a big internal HR team, as it allows them to stay compliant while focusing on other responsibilities for their in-house concerns. So, PEO goes way beyond employing people on your behalf to ensure compliance, but goes into the territory of absorbing more of your HR tasks. To know of some companies on the PEO space, see out our fuller piece on the best PEO organizations.
Those last company roundups do include most vendors from this list, but also some new ones that focus specifically on each employment method. If, on the other hand, you're ready to do a vendor comparison, consider starting with our side-by-side overview of Deel vs. Remote.
Last Advice on Buying a Global Payroll Solution
Setting up an international payroll properly is quite a project. It’s not only about paying people and staying within the boundaries of the law, but investing in creating the best possible experience for them. If your workers feel that they’re properly taken care of, they will feel enabled to perform their best.
Because of this, it is essential that you choose the provider that is right for your business needs. Take your time, ask a lot of questions, figure out what the right mix is for you and your team, and you’re likely to gain an edge over your competitors while saving time, cutting costs, and making your employees happier and more productive. Lastly, to stay organized during the demoing process, feel free to use our HR and Payroll software buyer organizer.
If you’re not quite there yet and are looking for a free payroll solution, check out our roundup of the best free payroll software.
Looking for HR Tech Advice?
Join our community
Ask questions, share knowledge, find new job opportunities, network and more in our closed HR Tech Buyers Community
- Our goal at SSR is to help HR and recruiting teams to find and buy the right software for their needs.
- Our site is free to use as some vendors will pay us for web traffic.
- SSR lists all companies we feel are top vendors - not just those who pay us - in our comprehensive directories full of the advice needed to make the right purchase decision for your HR team.