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How to Hire and Pay Remote Workers in Multiple Countries

As companies expand their workforce to include remote international workers, they may be looking at hiring employees from multiple countries.  There are many advantages to being able to access global talent without regard for borders, but it does require careful research and planning to navigate cultural, legal and communication challenges. 

Primarily, hiring in multiple locations means having to comply with each country’s unique employment and labor laws.  This guide will show you the key areas to pay attention to as you begin your recruitment and hiring efforts.

Considerations When Hiring Remote Employees in Different Countries

Once you have decided to build a remote team with workers from different countries, you will want to consider which countries might be the best place to hire in, depending on relevant skills, logistical challenges and budget.

Access to Talent and Desired Skill Sets

Regardless of worker location, the compelling reason to hire employees abroad is to find the right fit for open positions.  It is unlikely that multiple workers with the skill sets you need will all be located in the same country, so to access the best talent will probably mean hiring in different countries if you need to fill more than one role.

For example, both India and China are well known for IT expertise, while a remote customer service role could be more readily filled in the Philippines where English is widely spoken.

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Compensation for Remote Employees

Typically, remote employees can be offered salary levels that are consistent with the local economy and rates, which may be higher or lower than you would pay home office employees.  Differences in global economies, costs of living and employee expectations make it difficult to apply a single, standard salary policy.  The salary amounts should be known for the targeted role prior to serious recruitment efforts.

Employees in developed countries such as France and Singapore will need a higher salary just to meet living costs, but an employee in India or Malaysia may have lower salary requirements and expectations.

Time Zones

Hiring in different countries will usually mean working across time zones, not just from your home country, but between the locations of your multiple remote team members.  If real time collaboration is required, some overlapping work hours should be set to suit all team members.  Independent work roles could be performed using a more asynchronous method to meet deadlines. 

For this reason, some companies will try to form regional remote teams such as in Asia Pacific or North/South America to facilitate communication and collaboration with less of a time difference.

Language

While English is widely used in international business, there may be varying levels of speaking and writing fluency in some countries.  Even if a recruit has the right technical skill, they still have to be able to communicate with management and other employees.

You may find that in regions such as Europe or North Asia, workers from different countries will share a non-English common language which could support communication with other team members.

Duration of Employment

One consideration in hiring a remote worker is the duration of employment, and whether they are looking for a temporary or more long-term position.  Because the process of recruitment and setting up local employment takes time, most companies would look for at least a 6 to 12 month commitment from the worker, and many new employees would want the same from a foreign employer.

Most countries require a written employment contract with terms that conform to local labor laws.  For example, some countries like Spain have a limit on fixed term contracts, so that employees have some assurance of continuing employment.

Work Permits

At times, a company may find an expat recruit who resides abroad and has the right skill set for the position.  Many of the same considerations apply as with local residents, except that the expat will likely need some type of sponsored work permit.

This is less of an issue for EU citizens who don’t need work permits in EU member countries, but if an Australian decides to live and work in Canada there are immigration requirements to meet using a local sponsor.

How to Hire and Pay Remote Workers in Multiple Countries

Once a remote work candidate is found, the next step is to decide how to hire and pay them locally.  A company cannot put foreign remote workers on their home payroll in most cases, as taxes and contributions need to be made in the host country. 

For a single remote worker, setting up payroll and a contract may not be a major obstacle, but companies that hire in multiple countries will want a centralized and flexible employment solution to use in each location.

1. Hire as Contractors/Freelancers

At first glance, hiring workers as contractors probably seems like the simplest option, but there are pros and cons to using contractors abroad.  If a company is hiring for short term projects or only needs occasional technical support, then this approach can be used.  But filling longer-term staffing needs will probably require formal employment in the foreign country.

2. Set Up Local Entities in Countries with Operations

Large multinationals will often set up entities or branches in each country of operation, and those entities can hire local employees directly.  However, to justify the expense and effort of incorporation, there will usually be a broader business presence in place, other than solely hiring remote workers.

3. Use a Local Partner in Each Country

Best used as an interim solution, a company with partners/suppliers in the employee’s country could ask the partner to put them on their local payroll.  But hiring in multiple countries would mean needing business partners in each location, so it is probably less practical than other options.

4. Use a GEO Employer of Record

A GEO service is an ideal solution for any size company hiring in different countries, as the GEO already has multiple employers of record (EOR) set up to run local payroll and administer employment.  This means that remote employees can be hired at the same time around the globe, while the company has a single point of contact with the GEO to manage all of the details.  The EOR becomes the de facto local employer in each location on behalf of the foreign company.

Compliance While Operating in Different Countries

Regardless of which solution is used to hire multiple international employees, the priority for the employer is compliance with every host country’s employment and labor laws.  This will entail a full understanding of how each country requires an employer to treat workers, including benefit entitlements, tax withholding, employer contributions and immigration requirements.

For this reason alone, it is crucial to find the in-country expertise and support needed, or a company could risk fines, penalties and employee complaints to authorities.  Governments will demand the same level of compliance from a foreign company, even if only hiring one or more remote employees.

Using Shield GEO

Building a remote team of international employees is a significant task for any HR department to accomplish on its own.  However, if approached with a clear strategy and competent local partners, it is very possible to hire skilled employees from multiple countries.  With the increase in all types of remote work, more companies may begin to look abroad as they realize geographical location is not a barrier to accessing global talent.

If you have questions about how your company can hire multiple remote employees in different countries or how to manage a remote team, check out our Remote Page.  We make international employment simple.

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