13 Steps to Evaluating Top Global Payroll Providers
Need help onboarding international talent?
- Choose a global payroll provider with high-quality customer support. If you’re a small team or a new business, you want experts you can turn to anytime.
- Check that your global payroll provider can manage payroll processing for different types of workers and assist with classification.
- Consider an employer of record (EOR) or professional employer organization (PEO) for additional HR support and hiring compliance.
Navigating international payroll is one of the biggest challenges for companies pursuing global expansion. International tax regulations, local laws, and local currency conversions keep companies from making timely payments to global employees. The solution—outsourcing international payroll services to a top global payroll provider, such as Deel.
This article will show you how to identify the right payroll service provider for your business needs, including which security features to look for and how to spot a great user experience.
What are the top global payroll providers?
Companies have many options for payroll solutions. Still, Deel continues to be one of the top-ranked international payroll providers, with a 4.6/5 rating on G2 and 4.8/5 rating on TrustPilot.
Here’s a quick look at how Deel’s payroll solutions compare to similar products and services.
Local in-house payroll managers around the world
In-house global payroll
No, they currently use partners in some countries
US Payroll / US PEO Services
Client Payment Methods
ACH direct debit, Debit or credit card, SEPA direct debit, BACs, PAD direct debit, Brex, Bank transfer, Mercury, Wise, Coinbase
ACH direct debit, SEPA direct debit, BACs direct debit, Bank transfer
Wire transfer, SEPA direct debit, ACH direct debit, Credit/debit card
Credit card with 3% of the transaction as credit card fees.
Direct transfer from your company bank account via ACH
To learn more about how Deel compares to these companies and other payroll and HR software, including OnTop, Multiplier, and Gusto, see: How is Deel different from other providers?
1. Do they cover your global workforce’s location?
Finding a new payroll provider whenever you hire in a new region takes valuable time and resources—instead, partner with an international payroll provider that offers multi-country payroll coverage.
Document the following information before you start your search:
- Where current employees and contractors reside
- Where you want to hire workers in the next 6-12 months
- Where you may hire workers in the next five years
- Where you don’t want to hire workers from
You should not only be country-specific, but jurisdiction-specific, as some regions have different labor, tax, and employment laws for each state or province.
Review the information with potential payroll providers to ensure you’ll get the coverage you need in the short and long term. Ask them about their expansion plans, too—a good international payroll service will consistently expand their operations to handle a new country’s payroll.
2. Do they offer additional global HR services?
You can save time and money (especially if you’re a small business or start-up) by bundling your payroll services with other HR solutions.
Sticking with a basic international payroll solution makes sense if:
- You’re only outsourcing basic payroll tasks
- You have a limited budget
- You have a well-functioning HR team but no payroll specialist
However, if you need help with the following, you’ll benefit from full-service payroll and HR solutions:
- Benefits administration
- International hiring (but don’t want to set up a foreign subsidiary)
- Employee and contractor onboarding and offboarding
- Human resources support and general workforce management
- Management tools such as time tracking, time and attendance monitoring, and equipment provisioning
An employer of record (EOR), also known as a global PEO (professional employer organization), can provide these services in addition to global payroll and tax filing. When you partner with an EOR, they become the legal employer of your workers, so you don’t have to establish a local entity every time you hire in a new country. The EOR takes on all legal and financial responsibilities while you manage the employee’s workday.
In addition, companies that use Deel HR gain access to HR tools and services like Slack, equipment supply, and WeWork memberships, and can also receive support with localized contracts and employee benefits management.
3. Do they care about user experience?
Your team will interact with your provider’s system, so it must be user-friendly—especially if you plan to onboard new hires in large numbers. A bad user experience will become a frustrating, time-consuming experience for your full-time employees and contractors.
A great user experience takes more than technical features. High-quality customer service and support will make the payroll experience more enjoyable and efficient. Ask yourself the following questions when comparing global payroll companies:
- Does the system have a self-service portal that enables workers to withdraw funds in different ways, add expenses, and view transactions?
- Can employees easily upload tax forms, banking information, and other documents?
- Can you sign documents electronically?
- Does the payroll software feel intuitive to use?
- Does the software offer clear, detailed paycheck confirmations and invoice automation?
- Does the service include a team of in-house experts who can answer questions about compensation, benefits, and international hiring costs?
- Can you access customer support 24/7 via a chatbot, a direct email address, or a phone number?
- Does the payroll integrate with your other tools, like human capital management (HCM) and human resources information software (HRIS)?
- Does the service provide helpful online resources like blogs, guides, or video tutorials?
4. Can you pay employees and contractors?
Not all global payroll providers can help you pay foreign contractors. Some providers have limitations based on the contractor and company locations since countries have different definitions and payment requirements for independent contractors.
Check that your international payroll software can also process payments for contractors and assist with worker classification and compliance. Due to the complexity, many companies outsource these tasks to a multinational payment system. Without a payroll expert to guide you, you can’t be sure you’re complying with the contractor’s local payroll and labor laws.
Learn how to pay foreign independent contractors.
5. Do they have customizable reporting features?
A great global payroll provider will enable you to produce real-time payroll reports that tell you where your money is going and when. This function is vital to stay prepared for a potential audit.
Your provider should also offer an easy-to-use dashboard that gives you payroll data at a glance. At a minimum, you should be able to filter your data by employee, date, and location.
Make a list of the quarterly, annual, and ad-hoc reports and data sets your team will need and compare them against the provider’s reporting functions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Fiscal year-end reports
- Year-to-date reports
- Tax collections
- Tax filings
- Wages paid
- Hours worked
- Overtime paid
- Bonuses paid
- Pension costs
- Social security contributions
How Change.org used Deel to elevate their global payroll
Distributed across more than 25+ countries, Change.org is the world’s largest tech platform driving people-powered social change.
Change.org initially worked with a legacy payroll provider but encountered several hurdles, including a lack of automation, slow support, and clunky user experience. So, they turned to Deel.
“Other providers are stuck in the past in the way their platforms are built and the way their customer service works. We wanted the elevated experience Deel provides, and we don’t think we can get that elsewhere.” — Allie Shulman, Director of People Operations, Change.org
Since using Deel’s Global Payroll, Change.org has saved more than 300 hours on admin each month. They’ve also taken advantage of all the services Deel offers, including using EOR to retain employees needing visa sponsorship.
6. Can they scale with your business?
If you don’t pick a global payroll provider that can scale with your business, you’ll have to go through the provider search again in a few years. You’ll also have to transfer your employee data and retrain your team on new processes and systems.
The right global payroll service will make growing your global company easier, not harder. Having a long-term payroll provider also helps you maintain a positive employee experience and reduces disruptions to your workflow. Here’s how to identify a scalable global payroll provider:
- They regularly add new features and services
- They consistently update their security protections
- They don’t limit the number of remote employees or international contractors you can have on the payroll system
- They’re expanding their operations to new regions
- They offer a variety of payment methods for payees
- They offer mass-payment options
- They offer easy integrations with your favorite HR tools
7. Do they have flexible global payment methods?
Providing payees with various payment methods can help you attract forward-thinking talent. Standard payment methods include direct deposit, SWIFT payments, money transfers, and money orders—but today’s workers are looking for more unique options.
Since November 2020, there’s been a 10% month-over-month increase in workers wanting crypto payments. Then there are pay cards, which provide even more flexibility with funds. International workers often prefer pay cards and crypto to receive their pay in a more stable currency.
8. Do they prioritize strong data security?
Your international payroll provider will need access to sensitive employee data, including names, contact details, banking details, and tax information (Social Security Numbers and Tax Identification Numbers). Only work with providers who offer top-shelf payroll security.
Your provider should have a data processing agreement (DPA) to protect your worker’s data and information. A DPA ensures the provider handles data correctly and follows GDPR guidelines to prevent potential data breaches and abuse. These protections also guarantee secure data processing and legally protect your company if the provider mishandles data.
Ask these questions to understand a provider’s security measures:
- How are passwords stored?
- Is your software cloud-based with automatic updates, data recovery, and backup?
- Do you require two-factor authentication and single sign-on authentication (SSO)?
- How is your customer data encrypted?
- What is your data retention policy?
- What is your procedure for granting users access to sensitive information?
- What is your process if a breach of information or unauthorized access occurs?
9. Does their payment model work for your business?
If you’re a small or medium-sized business or have a tight budget, you need to know where your money is going and when to expect charges. Since there are so many payment models available from global payroll providers these days, you can choose the best model for your business.
Most payment models charge per employee or contractor. The cost per contractor is typically lower than the cost per employee. As for payment schedules, expect monthly, quarterly, or annual payments.
Providers often offer quote-based pricing based on company size, required HR solutions, employee salary, and location. Some providers offer reduced rates for bundled services, custom pricing for enterprises, and discounts for start-ups.
10. Do their features provide bang for your buck?
A global payroll provider may fit your budget—but are you really getting the most value for your money?
Below you’ll find a list of the most common features offered by global payroll providers. The price for each feature varies depending on the provider. When comparing providers, request a breakdown of their pricing to see how much money each feature will cost you:
- Basic payroll tasks (payroll management, tax withholding, automatic payslips/pay stubs distribution, tax filing)
- Worker classification and compliance checks
- Customer service or help desk access
- App management
- Benefits administration
- EOR services
- IP rights protections
- Contractor management
- Set-up fees
See how Deel’s pricing model works and what it includes.
11. Is their implementation process quick, safe, and low-maintenance?
Understanding a payroll provider’s implementation process will clarify your team’s role within it. Ask your potential provider which of your team members needs to be involved in the process and what their time commitment will be so your team can plan accordingly.
You’ll also want to know how long it will take to implement the service. Ask for a sample timeline to give your team a general idea of the process.
This is also your opportunity to learn more about their implementation process and ensure information security. Ask the provider how they add new countries and employees to the system, whether they outsource any part of the implementation to a third party, and the documentation they provide during the process.
Lizette Kuld, Head of People and Culture, Moralis
12. Take your time
Do as much research as you need during the sales process. Read customer reviews to see what others say and check multiple sources to get a wide range of feedback. We recommend websites like G2 and TrustPilot for global HR solutions or Capterra for Canadian businesses.
Reach out to your network of business owners and HR professionals for recommendations. If you have an extensive network, share a post asking for recommendations on LinkedIn. If you don’t have an extensive professional network, post your message on a related message board on Facebook or Reddit.
Most providers offer a free 30-day trial. Or, at a minimum, they’ll walk you through their offer with a free demo. The provider will need basic information before you can book a trial or demo, like your business name, location, number of employees, and the services you need.
13. Submit a request for proposal (RFP)
A request for proposal (RFP) is a document companies send to potential vendors to learn more about their services. Companies can send RFPs to multiple vendors and use the information they gather to make an informed purchasing decision.
In this scenario, you can use an RFP to invite potential international payroll companies to provide information on their company, services, security, implementation process, and more.
We’ve created a straightforward RFP template you can send out to potential payroll providers and EORs. The template is a Google Drive file, so it’s easy to customize and share.
Frequently asked questions about global payroll outsourcing
Here are a few final insights into the global payroll process and how outsourcing can benefit you.
What are the benefits of outsourcing global payroll?
Outsourcing global payroll benefits your HR team and any worker you pay through the system. It’s more cost-effective than hiring and retaining an in-house department for international payroll processing and minimizes the risk of payroll errors. Most global payroll companies have in-country experts to guarantee payroll is always in compliance with international regulatory obligations.
The best global payroll software have high data security standards, so you can rest easy knowing your employees’ and company’s sensitive information is well protected. Dive deeper into the benefits of outsourcing global payroll.
Marieke Sneep, Head of People, Solar Monkey
What is the difference between global and international payroll?
Global payroll and international payroll are two names for the same process. But remember, standard payroll and global payroll/international payroll are different. Standard payroll providers follow domestic labor and tax laws. They can’t help you maintain compliance when paying foreign employees or contractors.
When should you outsource payroll operations?
If recurring payroll tasks pull your HR team away from core initiatives, it’s time to outsource your payroll operations. Some business owners turn to outsourcing because of the convenience—they want a one-click solution to streamline the payment process.
Most global teams outsource global payroll management to protect themselves. They want to comply fully with different countries’ labor laws and local tax regulations. Plus, they don’t want to deal with the complex processes of paying international employees or contractors.
What is the best global payroll for small businesses?
Most global payroll solutions will work for small businesses, mid-level companies, and enterprises. But there are some specific features and services that small business owners should seek out.
Choose an international payroll service provider with high-quality customer support. If you’re a small team or a new business, you want experts you can turn to anytime. If the provider has a collection of informational resources for your team, like blog posts, videos, or guides, that’s a bonus.
You may also want a global PEO or EOR instead of just remote payroll services. They can take on more HR functions and minimize your legal and financial risk—and you can focus on building and growing your business.
Simplify global payroll with Deel
Making global payments shouldn’t be a challenge. With Deel, you can fund payroll with just a click and automatically calculate taxes without lifting a finger, so your team gets paid on time every time—but Deel is more than just a payroll platform.
Whether you want to hire employees directly, make contractor payments, or use employer of record services to tap into international talent pools, Deel is an all-in-one HR platform for global teams.