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Employer of Record (EOR) in China

VERDICT: The best China EOR in 2024 is Horizons. Horizons stands apart from other China EORs with its regional headquarters in Shanghai and the depth of its local expertise.

Key Takeaways

  • A China EOR (China Employer of Record) enables international companies to hire in China, quickly and more cost-effectively than setting up a local entity. 
  • On average hiring through a China EOR takes 2 weeks vs 3 to 6 months to establish a local entity.
  • China EORs are beneficial to most companies expanding into China, as they save money, time, and ensure full compliance with Chinese laws
  • Our pick for the best China EORs in 2023 are Horizons, Bradford Jacobs, Infotree Global and ChaadHR. 

What is a China EOR?

A China EOR is a professional HR company that helps foreign businesses hire professionals in China by acting as the legal employer for their China-based team. This eliminates the costly and time-consuming step of registering a company in China. 

This is ideal for foreign companies that want to explore the Chinese market without making long-term commitments or investing heavily in local infrastructure. It allows businesses to quickly set up and scale their operations in China, as the EOR takes care of the legal and administrative complexities involved in hiring and paying employees in China. 

China EOR Leaders Table

1. Horizons

With Horizons, client companies can leverage their local China expertise to hire, onboard, and pay employees anywhere in China. With extensive experience in hiring in China and its regional headquarters in Shanghai, Horizons is our pick for Best China EOR.

💡 Pricing starts at $299+ per employee per month

2. Bradford Jacobs

With its broad range of expansion solutions — EOR, entity setup, payroll and marketing support, we judge Bradford Jacobs Best for China Expansion.

💡 Pricing available by custom quote

3. Infotree Global

With a full range of temporary and permanent hiring solutions in China, we rate Infotree Global the Best China Workforce Solution.

💡 Pricing available by custom quote. 

4. ChaadHR

With its user-friendly SaaS and multiple integrations, ChaadHR’s China EOR is our pick as the Best China HR Platform

💡 Pricing starts at $299 per employee, per month

Read further below to find out why these four China EOR companies stand out compared to the competition. 

How to Choose Your EOR

How Does a China EOR Work?

A China Employer of Record (EOR), similar to a China Professional Employer Organization (PEO), provides services to assist foreign companies in hiring and managing employees in China.

Traditionally, for a global company to hire employees in China, it would need to set up a local legal entity in China, such as a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE). However, this can be expensive and time-consuming, and there is always the risk that companies will inadvertently fail to comply with complex Chinese labor laws. 

So, what exactly does a China EOR do?

  1. Hiring
    When a company utilizes a China Employer of Record (EOR), the EOR takes over the key administrative responsibilities of the employer. This includes preparing employment contracts, processing work permits, and managing visa applications. With these administrative burdens gobe, the company can focus on the core aspects of its operations.
  2. Payroll and Benefits
    The EOR also manages payroll processing and employee benefits administration. This means paying salaries and ensuring employee social insurance contributions are accurately and promptly paid on behalf of the employees: The EOR takes care of all statutory benefits, such as health insurance, common pension fund contributions, and unemployment insurance, following local regulations. 
  3. Payroll Taxes
    The EOR also manages employer payroll tax obligations. This includes withholding and remitting taxes from employee salaries, filing tax returns, and adhering to other statutory requirements related to employment in China. 
  4. Compliance
    The EOR ensures all employment is in full compliance with China labor law.  This includes ensuring all employees are hired under a legally valid written employment contract. The China EOR will also handle all ongoing correspondence with central and local governments. 

It’s important to note that the specific services a China EOR offers may vary among providers. Therefore, it’s crucial to clarify the scope of services and responsibilities with the chosen EOR to ensure they align with the needs of the foreign company. 

This brings us to our analysis of the Top 4 China EORs. 

The Top 4 China EORs in 2024

Best China EOR

1. Horizons 

Horizons is the leading China Employer of Record, with its regional headquarters in Shanghai and offices throughout the country. With coverage in 180+ countries, Horizons can also support companies hiring in any other territory. 

With an intuitive SaaS hiring platform and deep knowledge of Chinese tax and labor laws, Horizons can have your Chinese team up and running in as little as 12 hours

Horizons Global Employer Organization
China's leading EOR, Horizons

Key Features

Global CoverageWith Horizons China EOR, you can consolidate the hiring of your China team with your global workforce, using one provider for coverage in 180+ countries.  
Wholly-Owned InfrastructureMany other global EORs subcontract their China services to a local provider. As in all key markets, Horizons operates through its subsidiary in China, giving you additional compliance assurance. 
Extra ServicesHorizons doesn’t just hire and pay your employees in China. They have an in-house China recruitment team to give you the pick of local talent, contractor payment solutions, and a full work visa support service.  

Pricing

China EOR$299 per employee, per month.
Contractors$49 per month, per contractor.
China Recruitment2% of gross salary per month.

Pros

  Pricing TransparencyAll prices are listed on the Horizons website, with China EOR services priced at $299 per employee, per month.
  User-Friendly PlatformThe Horizons platform and app gives you an immediate overview of your China payroll arrangements, bonuses and expense reimbursement. Through the strength of its platform, Horizons has also been rated the best PEO software provider. 
✓   Premium Add-OnsHorizons China services go beyond EOR, with global mobility, recruitment and contractor support ensuring a complete China hiring solution
✓  China Legal Expertise China corporate, labour and tax law can be confusing for those unfamiliar with it. With long experience in the China market and an in-house legal team, Horizons will ensure that you have a compliant solution in place, whether that is China EOR, a WFOE (wholly foreign-owned enterprise). 

Cons

 No Payroll-OnlySometimes client companies already have a subsidiary in China, but need a partner to take care of payroll.  Horizons is rolling out a global payroll solution, but does not yet offer China coverage. 

The 'Wow' Factor

Horizons stands apart from other global EORs operating in China in having a strong leadership presence in China, as well as dedicated legal and recruitment teams on the ground. This means Horizons has a deep business network in China, and can act as an effective bridge with government authorities. 

Verdict

Horizons can support international companies expanding into China, no matter what their HR, payroll or compliance needs. 

For their local expertise and connections in the broader marketplace, we score Horizons as the Best China EOR

💡 Read more about the benefits of working with Horizons in our 2023 Horizons Review.

Best for China Expansion

2. Bradford Jacobs 

Bradford Jacobs is an international Employer of Record and PEO offering services in 120+ countries. Bradford Jacobs is a useful China EOR for any company that needs, or may need broader expansion services: From EOR, to recruitment, to entity set up and global payroll, Bradford Jacobs has you covered. 

Expand into China with Bradford Jacobs EOR solution.
China expansion and EOR solutions, with Bradford Jacobs

Key features

International CoverageBradford Jacobs supports international hire in 120+ countries, meaning one provider across your international locations
EOR and PEOThrough their EOR and PEO solutions, Bradford Jacobs can hire and pay your China team in full compliance with China labor law
Entity set upAs well as international hiring solutions, Bradford Jacobs can support international companies that wish to establish a local legal entity in China. 

Pricing

Custom quoteWith a broad range of hiring and expansion solutions, Bradford Jacobs provides quotes tailored to the specific needs of the company.

Pros

  Global PayrollInternational companies that already have a China branch of subsidiary can save substantially by engaging Bradford Jacobs as their outsourced payroll provider. Your company remains the legal employer, but Bradford Jacobs takes over payroll processing and other administrative aspects of employment.
  Entity Set UpIf your company wants to have a stronger trading presence in China, and enter into local contracts, it is likely you will need a legal entity in China such as a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) or a Foreign-Invested Enterprise (FIE). Bradford Jacobs can set up this entity for you. 
✓   Branding SupportWondering how to best position your company in the Chinese marketplace?  Bradford Jacobs provides full branding and marketing support to ensure that you are targeting the China consumer market correctly.

Cons

 No Public PricingBradford Jacobs does not provide pricing for all its services on its website, and instead provides prices by custom quote.  

The 'Wow' Factor'

Bradford Jacobs is the only China EOR providing branding and marketing support. This is crucial for any business setting up in China for the first time and unfamiliar with how the local consumer market operates. 

Verdict

Bradford Jacobs is both a leading China EOR, and a full China expansion solution provider. Whether you are looking for EOR, PEO, China payroll, entity set up or marketing consulting, Bradford Jacobs can support you.  

With the breadth of its China expansion offerings, Bradford Jacobs is our pick as best for China expansion

Best China Workforce Solution

3. Infotree Global 

Infotree Global is an established global employment outsourcing firm and Employer of Record with a strong China presence. Founded in 2002 and with a workforce of 5,000 strong, Infotree Global has the skills and experience to support expansion and hiring in nearly any location. 

Infotree Global China EOR
Infotree Global — China Workforce Management

Key features

International CoverageInfotree Global’s EOR solutions enable global companies to hire in 150+ global locations. 
IT Outsourcing In addition to their global employment solutions, Infotree can support your company through traditional IT outsourcing in China. 
EOR and Staffing SolutionsIn addition to hiring and onboarding your China team, Infotree Global can also recruit top talent for you in China through its 400+ dedicated recruitment staff

Pricing

Custom quoteWith a broad range of employment and staffing solutions, Infotree Global provides quotes tailored to the specific needs of the company.

Pros

  Multiple SolutionsIn addition to China EOR/PEO and recruitment, Infotree Global can support you with China IT infrastructure support and payroll. This can be useful for companies that are unsure as to what their precise China expansion needs will be over time.
  Flexible optionsAs well as supporting your company with permanent or ongoing employees, Infotree Global can support you with temporary or project-based resourcing. Particularly useful is their ‘Statement of Work’ contracting solution which provides you with key staff where you are unsure of exact project timelines.
✓   Strategic PartnershipsWith more than 20 years experience in the field and such a large international presence, Infotree Global has a diverse range of global partners and certifications with various government authorities. This means that even if Infotree can’t help you, they will know someone who can.

Cons

 No PricingInfotree Global does not provide public pricing for all its services on its website. These must be requested to receive a customized quote. 

The 'Wow' Factor'

Most China EORs are focused on providing ongoing/permanent employment solutions in China only. While Infotree Global does this via its EOR solution, it also provides a full range of temporary and project-based staffing solutions, supporting businesses that are unsure about their ongoing HR needs. 

Verdict

Infotree Global is a top-tier employment outsourcing and EOR provider, both on the international level, and specifically in China. If you know you wish to hire a China-based team but are unsure which employment solution is best for you, Infotree can help. 

For the breadth of its China HR solutions, Infotree Global is our pick for the Best China Workforce Solution

Best China HR and EOR Platform

4. ChaadHR

ChaadHR is an impressive international EOR and HR platform, with a strong presence in the China market. The ChaadHR Saas platform provides full integration with all major accounting and HR apps, making HR management easier and reducing the risk of manual entry errors. 

ChaadHR EOR and HR Platform
ChaadHR's leading China HR platform

Key features

International EORIn addition to its China EOR solution, ChaadHR supports hiring in 150+ countries across the globe. 
Global PayrollSelf-described as ‘autopilot payroll‘,  ChaadHR can pay your international teams in virtually any country and currency, whether you have an entity or not. 
HR PlatformThe ChaadHR platform enables you to oversee EOR employees, contractors and outsourcing payroll processing through the one convenient platform and app. 

Pricing

Employer of RecordChina EOR solutions are priced at $299 per employee per month.
ContractorsContractor management services are offered for $49 per contractor per month
Global PayrollBy custom quote
Enterprise By custom quote

Pros

  Scalable PricingChaadHR offers differing pricing plans and discounts depending on both the size of your business, and how many employees are hired through an EOR or payroll solution. 
  IntegrationsThe ChaadHR SaaS platform has dozens of integrations, including all the major HR, payroll and software apps such as BambooHR, Xero and Quickbooks. 
✓   Contractor SupportWith ChaadHR you can manage all your employees and independent contractors on the single platform through Chaad’s contractor payment solution. 

Cons

 No RecruitmentChaadHR does not have an in-house recruitment team in China, so you will need another partner for local talent acquistion.  

The 'Wow' Factor'

With most companies using a range of HR and business support apps as part of their tech stack it is beneficial to have ‘one source of truth’ to avoid manual errors. With its range of integrations, the ChaadHR platform reduces the risk posed by multiple separate apps

Verdict

ChaadHR is a ‘tech-first’ Employer of Record, supporting a range of employment solutions through the handy app. This is beneficial for any company concerned about potential errors and data security issues when hiring a team in China. 

For its user-friendly and secure software, with multiple integrations, ChaadHR is our pick for Best China HR and EOR platform

What Are the Benefits of a China EOR?

Whichever provide you choose, what are the general benefits of a China EOR solution? Advantages of using an EOR for your China hiring include:

  1. Local expertise and compliance
    China has complex employment regulations that can be challenging for foreign companies to navigate. A China EOR brings extensive knowledge of labor law in China. This includes, knowing, for example, how the Hukou system and China Social Security System relate to employment. 
  2. Quick market entry
    Engaging a China EOR allows foreign companies to enter the Chinese market rapidly without the need to register a company in China or navigate the lengthy process of setting up a local entity. This saves time and resources, enabling businesses to start operations and hire employees swiftly.
  3. Flexibility and scalability
    With an EOR in China, companies can scale their operations up or down quickly based on business needs. Whether hiring a small team or expanding the workforce rapidly, the EOR can handle the administrative and legal aspects of employee management, providing flexibility in managing headcount.
  4. Risk mitigation
    By relying on a China EOR, companies can mitigate various risks associated with employment and legal compliance. The EOR assumes the legal responsibility as the employer of record, reducing the risk of non-compliance with labor laws, tax penalties, or other legal issues. A China EOR will also be able to help companies reduce risk in other areas — such as any risk related to the corporate social credit score in China. 
  5. Cost-effectiveness
    Engaging a China EOR can be cost-effective compared to setting up and maintaining a legal entity in the country. Companies can avoid the costs associated with establishing a local infrastructure, such as office space, legal fees, compliance expenses, and staffing an HR team.
  6. Business continuity
    The EOR ensures smooth operations during transitions, such as mergers, acquisitions, or restructuring. They can help manage employee transfers or terminations while ensuring compliance with labor laws and handling the necessary administrative procedures.
  7. Focus on core business
    By outsourcing the employer-related responsibilities to the EOR, foreign companies can focus on their core business activities, strategic planning, and market expansion efforts, knowing that employee management and compliance are in capable hands.

What Are the Risks or Downsides of a China EOR?

Are there any downsides to using a China EOR arrangement? Consider:

  1. Data security concerns
    When engaging a China EOR, the EOR will have sensitive employee data on file in China. This means there is an inherent risk of that data being released in an unauthorized manner. 
  2. Limited control over employment matters
    When you engage an EOR, they become the legal employer of your team in China. This means you have less direct control over employment decisions, such as hiring, termination, promotions, and disciplinary actions. The EOR will have its own policies and procedures based on Chinese law, that might not align perfectly with your company’s preferences.
  3. Potential cultural and communication challenges
    Working with an EOR in China may introduce cultural and language barriers. Communication and understanding between the foreign company and the EOR, as well as between the EOR and the employees, can be affected, leading to misunderstandings or inefficiencies.
  4. Dependence on a third-party
    By relying on a China EOR, you become dependent on their services and performance. If the EOR experiences operational issues or fails to meet expectations, it can impact your business operations and employee management in China. There is also an element of legal risk in that company intellectual property will be under the control of a third-party company in China. 
  5. Limited flexibility in HR policies
    The EOR typically follows standardized HR policies and practices that may not align perfectly with your company’s specific HR requirements or company culture. This can limit your ability to implement customized HR policies or practices tailored to your organization’s needs. 

Note that when considering these risks or EOR downsides, a reputable China EOR such as any of those on our Best China EOR list will have measures in place to mitigate against these risks.

How a China EOR Ensures Compliance with Local Labor Law

Perhaps the most important part of the China EOR’s job is to take care of labor law compliance. This ensures that your company is not subject to costly fines or penalties for its China hiring. 

Some of the key areas where a China EOR will ensure compliance include: 

1. Minimum Wage Laws

A China EOR will ensure that China minimum wage laws are complied with at all times (note, the monthly minimum wage in China changes regularly and differ by region and city). 

2. Compliant Labor Contracts

The China EOR will ensure that all employees in China are hired on a compliant written labor contract. This will set out the employee’s key entitlements including any probationary period, severance pay,  maternity leave and annual leave. 

3. Social Security

The China EOR makes deductions for employee social insurance contributions and remits those amounts to the authorities. Social security contributions in China cover the so-called ‘Five Insurances‘, plus contributions to the Housing Fund. These five insurances are Pension insurance, Medical insurance, Unemployment insurance, Work-related injury insurance and Maternity insurance. 

The Steps for Engaging a China EOR

Engaging a China EOR involves a few key steps. Here’s a general guide on how to engage a China EOR:

1. Identify your needsDetermine your requirements and goals for expanding or establishing a presence in China. Consider factors such as the number of employees you plan to hire, the duration of your engagement, and the level of support you expect from the EOR. Depending on your needs, Labor Dispatch or a WFOE could be the best option. 
2. Research EOR ProvidersConduct thorough research to identify reputable EOR providers in China. Check out our China EOR Leader Board to see our assessment of the best China EORs. 
3. Assess EOR ServicesEvaluate the range of services offered by different EOR providers. Consider whether their services align with your specific needs, such as payroll administration, compliance management, HR support, and other relevant aspects of employment in China.
4. Request QuotesContact the selected EOR providers and request proposals outlining their services and pricing structure. Request a ‘total cost of hiring’ proposal, including the EOR service fee.
5. Conduct Due DiligenceBefore finalizing your choice, perform due diligence on the EOR provider you are considering. Verify their credentials, reputation, and client testimonials. You may also want to seek references or speak with existing clients to gather feedback on their experience with the provider.
6. Contract NegotiationOnce you have selected an EOR provider, engage in contract negotiations. Ensure that the terms and conditions align with your expectations and clearly outline the responsibilities of both parties. Pay close attention to service-level agreements, pricing, termination clauses, data protection, and confidentiality provisions.
7. Engage the EOROnce you have selected an EOR provider, engage in contract negotiations. Ensure that the terms and conditions align with your expectations and clearly outline the responsibilities of both parties. Pay close attention to service-level agreements, pricing, termination clauses, data protection, and confidentiality provisions.

Pro Tip: Remember that engaging a China EOR involves a legal and contractual relationship, so it’s advisable to consult with legal and business advisors familiar with China’s laws and regulations to ensure compliance and protect your interests throughout the process

Engaging a China EOR — Our Take

Engaging a China Employer of Record can provide foreign companies with a streamlined and efficient way to expand and establish a presence in China. By outsourcing employer-related responsibilities, such as compliance with labor laws, payroll processing, and HR administration, companies can save time, resources, and mitigate legal risk.

The EOR’s local expertise and support enable businesses to navigate the complexities of the Chinese market, while maintaining flexibility and scalability. While there are potential downsides or risks to any global expansion solution, the top China EORs have measures in place to protect you against any risk

China Business Guides

Frequently Asked Questions

No, China Employers of Record can be beneficial for companies of various sizes. While larger companies may have the resources to establish their own legal entity in China, engaging an EOR can still provide cost savings, speed, and expertise.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often find EOR services particularly advantageous as they may not have the resources or local knowledge to navigate Chinese labor laws and administrative processes on their own.

Yes. As China expansion experts a China EOR will be able to guide you on the rules around corporate social credit scores. These are a China-specific mechanism for determining whether a company or individual is trustworthy. 

Yes, it is possible to transition from using a China Employer of Record to register your own China company in the future. The EOR can help facilitate the transition process by providing guidance and support. Keep in mind that establishing a legal entity involves additional time, costs, and administrative requirements. It's advisable to consult with legal and business advisors to determine the most suitable timing and approach for transitioning to a legal entity based on your business objectives and long-term plans in China.

No, it is not required. If you do not possess a company registered in China such as a WFOE, you have the option to engage employees using a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) service offered by a Chinese employment agency or an EOR service such as described on this page.

1.  Employ individuals with a China EOR

If you lack a legal entity in China, this is the sole compliant method for having employees work for you in China. An EOR in China allows you to hire in less than 48 hours employees in China without the need to set up your own entity.

2. Onboard employees through a WFOE

If you have already established a WFOE in China, you can directly enter into labor contracts with your employees. You have the option to manage their payroll and benefits in-house or outsource these functions.

3. Engage employees through a representative office (RO)

A representative office in China is not permitted to directly hire employees. The only compliant approach is to employ workers through a labor dispatch agency under the PEO service.

Digital Yuan is a new state-backed digital currency in China. Currently it is only being trialed with salaries for some public employees and is not generally available for salary payment yet. 

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