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What is an Employer of Record (EOR): Definition, Benefits & Downsides

What is an Employer of Record? An Employer of Record (EOR) is a third-party HR provider that assumes the responsibilities of managing payroll, employee benefits, and risk management on behalf of a company. This saves companies money and time, and is often used to hire international teams without setting up costly overseas subsidiaries

Key Takeaways

  • An Employer of Record manages payroll, benefits, and risk management for a company, allowing them to focus on core business functions.
  • EORs handle the legal aspects of employment, including terminations when necessary.
  • They play an essential role in navigating complex international employment laws and regulations.

In this guide we explain what Employers of Record (EORs) are, how they work and how they differ from Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). We also look at the benefits they have over some other types of HR solution. 

What is an Employer of Record


Definition of an Employer of Record

  • An Employer of Record (EOR) is an organization that takes on the role of managing payroll, benefits, and risk management for a company’s employees on its behalf, relieving the company of these responsibilities.

  • The EOR serves as the legal employer of your staff, handling various administrative, legal, and compliance-related tasks linked with employment.
  • While you control your staff’s strategic management, day-to-day roles, and functions, the EOR undertakes the backend HR work.

Employer of Record Infographic

Employer of Record
The function of an Employer of Record

Functions of an EOR

An Employer of Record (EOR) is an organization that takes on various administrative tasks and legal responsibilities and liabilities for a client company’s workforce. The following subsections outline the main functions of an EOR.

1. Payroll Processing

One of the key services offered by an Employer of Record is payroll processing. The EOR manages salary calculations, withholding taxes, and other deductions while disbursing employee payments on time. They also handle year-end tax forms, such as W-2s or 1099s, ensuring accurate reporting to the respective tax authorities.

2. Insurance Coverage

EORs are also responsible for providing appropriate insurance coverage to the employees. This includes workers’ compensation, health and dental insurance, life insurance, and other employee benefits. By outsourcing these services to an EOR, client companies can save time, resources, and minimize potential risks associated with insurance management.

3. Compliance with Local Employment Laws

An EOR manages legal employer obligations such as local payroll, taxes, and statutory benefits for workers in a country, making it easier for businesses to focus on hiring international employees without worrying about legal compliance. They provide guidance and assistance to companies in hiring employees according to local laws in every country or jurisdiction, ensuring compliant employment agreements and smooth entry into the international market.

4. Hiring Employees with Labor Contracts

An EOR will hire employees through local employment contracts, EORs play a pivotal role in maintaining adherence to local regulations and catering to employee needs. They can assist companies with their expertise in local regulations regarding employment, helping them conclude contracts appropriately and efficiently.

In addition, EORs oversee employment agreements and establish the required processes for onboarding new team members. They also provide invaluable guidance when it comes to terminating an employee’s employment, reducing potential risks such as legal action, damage to the company’s reputation, and financial repercussions.

In summary, an Employer of Record streamlines a company’s HR responsibilities by managing payroll processing, insurance coverage, and legal compliance, allowing the client company to focus on its core business operations. Employing an EOR helps to reduce administrative burdens, minimize legal liabilities, and simplify workforce management.

5. Onboarding

An Employer of Record (EOR) plays a crucial role in the onboarding process of a company’s employees. By taking over the responsibilities of payroll, benefits, and risk management, it ensures that all legal and administrative matters are handled efficiently and in compliance with local regulations. The employee onboarding starts with thorough background checks of the potential candidates to mitigate any risks associated with their employment. As a third-party organization, the EOR ensures a smooth onboarding process, keeping both the client company and its employees confident and satisfied with the transition.

Use and EOR to Expand Globally

1. Global Expansion

Employer of Record (EOR) plays a significant role in the global expansion of businesses. As companies venture into new global markets, they often face challenges in managing their global workforce and navigating through the complexities of different labor laws in each foreign country. A Global Employer of Record, also known as an International EOR, uses their local knowledge in each location to help companies ease this process. This enables businesses to focus on their core operations and growth strategies, without the need to set up local legal entities or hire contractors.

2. Managing International Employees

An EOR can assist with various aspects of managing international employees. By partnering with a local EOR, companies can ensure that their international employees are onboarded, paid, and managed in accordance with the host country’s regulations. This not only reduces the compliance risk for the company but also ensures a smooth onboarding process and a better employee experience.

Moreover, EOR services can help with additional support such as handling payroll, benefits, health insurance and taxes while adhering to local labor laws. By leveraging an EOR, companies can gain access to talent in different parts of the world, efficiently manage diverse teams, and maintain a high level of employee satisfaction.

In some countries, there may be specific regulations regarding the use of EORs. For instance, in Germany, an EOR is only allowed for a maximum of 18 months. After this period, the company needs to make alternative arrangements for employment.

Utilizing an Employer of Record in the international context can greatly facilitate the global expansion and management of employees. Companies can save time, resources, and minimize potential compliance risks, allowing them to better focus on their market growth objectives.

Benefits of an EOR Solution

A partnership with an EOR brings numerous benefits like compliance assurance, simplified payroll and tax management, along with access to a global talent pool. This enables businesses to navigate the complexities of international employment with ease and focus on their core operations, ultimately fostering growth and innovation.

1. The EOR Takes on Legal Employer Responsibilities

EORs ensure compliance with local employment laws, reducing the risk of legal exposure for companies. They provide the following services to maintain compliance:

  • Monitoring and adapting to changes in local employment laws
  • Proper documentation
  • Ongoing HR support
  • Background checks
  • Employment contracts
  • Benefits administration

EORs take on the legal and administrative duties associated with workforce management, thereby eliminating potential legal risks for the company and ensuring adherence to local employment laws. These laws include:

  • Minimum wage requirements
  • Overtime regulations
  • Workplace safety
  • Anti-discrimination laws
  • Employee benefits mandates
  • Tax requirements

2. Streamlined Payroll and Tax Management

EORs simplify payroll and tax management by automating and streamlining HR, compliance, and tax-related tasks, allowing companies to focus on their core business activities. They manage:

  • Payroll processing
  • Tax filing
  • Benefits administration
  • Employment contracts

This provides significant savings in terms of time and resources.

The services offered by an EOR can alleviate the workload and ensure compliance with tax regulations. They leverage their expertise and local office infrastructure to:

  • Handle payroll processing
  • Ensure compliance with local tax laws and regulations
  • Manage payroll and tax withholdings for employees in different countries

3. Access to a Global Talent Pool

EORs enable companies to:

  • Access a diverse and skilled global talent pool
  • Foster innovation and growth
  • Assume the legal employer role
  • Manage visa applications, insurance, legal compliance, payroll, benefits, taxes, employment contracts, and onboarding
  • Hire talent globally without having to establish your own legal entity in each country.

Collaborating with an EOR allows companies to:

  • Step beyond geographical boundaries
  • Leverage a global talent pool
  • Result in a more diverse workforce with a broader range of skills, experiences, and perspectives
  • Empower businesses to be more competitive and adapt to the ever-changing demands of the global market.

4. Compliance

Hiring an Employer of Record (EOR) allows companies to maintain control over their global workforce while ensuring a high level of quality. By partnering with a reliable EOR, organizations can easily manage their remote employees without the need to establish local legal entities. This ensures that companies can focus on their core business while leaving the complexities of global employment to the EOR.

5. Risk Mitigation

When expanding internationally, companies face various risks, such as compliance with local labor and tax laws. An EOR helps mitigate these risks by acting as the legal entity responsible for ensuring adherence to local regulations. EORs stay up-to-date with changing laws and provide expert guidance, reducing the chances of non-compliance and potential fines.

6. Cost Efficiency

Working with an EOR can be a cost-effective solution for businesses looking to expand globally. The EOR handles payroll, benefits, and other administrative tasks, allowing companies to avoid the costs and time involved in setting up entities in each country. This also lowers the overall EOR cost, as organizations can leverage the EOR’s existing infrastructure and expertise without additional investments.

In summary, hiring an EOR gives companies the ability to control their global workforce, maintain quality, mitigate risks, and operate in a cost-efficient manner. This partnership allows organizations to expand into new markets without the burden of handling complex international employment processes and compliance requirements.

Difference Between EOR and Staffing Agency or PEO Solutions

While both EORs and staffing agencies help companies manage their workforce, they serve different purposes. EORs handle legal and administrative employment responsibilities, such as payroll, benefits, and legal compliance, while staffing agencies specialize in sourcing temporary personnel for specific workforce requirements, such as seasonal work or temporary skill shortages.

The key difference lies in the scope of services provided. EORs take on the legal employer role and manage all aspects of employment, whereas staffing agencies focus primarily on recruitment and assignment of employees to meet short-term needs. Depending on your business requirements, one may be more suitable than the other.

The Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is a different HR model again from EOR a and staffing companies. The PEO acts as a co-employer, rather than the sole legal employer of staff. 

Both the PEO and Staffing Company Solution are usually considered inappropriate where a company is hiring overseas without an existing entity. 

Potential Downsides of an EOR Solution

Despite the many advantages of using an Employer of Record (EOR), there are potential downsides that businesses should consider before opting for this model. This section will highlight two key drawbacks: Workers’ Compensation and Termination Processes.

1. Workers’ Compensation

One challenge that companies may face when using an EOR is navigating the complexities of workers’ compensation policies and regulations. Depending on the country or jurisdiction, the EOR and client organization may share liabilities for workplace injuries, illnesses, or accidents. This can lead to potential legal issues or disputes between the EOR and the client organization regarding the responsibilities and financial burdens associated with such incidents.

Moreover, EORs typically have their own workers’ compensation insurance, which may not always align with the client organization’s policies or expectations. This can create discrepancies in coverage, premiums, and overall risk management strategies. Businesses looking to work with an EOR should thoroughly understand the EOR’s workers’ compensation policies to avoid surprises or misunderstandings down the line.

2. Termination Processes

Another downside of using an EOR is the increased complexity and potential confusion surrounding the termination of employees. As the legal employer, the EOR is responsible for handling all aspects of the termination process, including adhering to local labor laws, issuing final paychecks, and providing required documentation. However, the client organization still maintains control over the decision to terminate an employee.

This dual practical and legal responsibility can create confusion and potential legal issues if the EOR and client organization are not fully aligned on the terms and conditions of employee termination. To mitigate this risk, it is essential for the EOR and client organization to establish clear communication channels and agreement on the roles and responsibilities of each party when it comes to terminations.

In conclusion, while using an EOR can bring numerous benefits to an organization, it is essential for businesses to be aware of the potential downsides and take necessary precautions to ensure a smooth partnership with an EOR.

3. Cost Considerations

The cost of using an EOR depends on factors such as location, services offered, and the number of employees, with fees often charged on a per-employee basis. 

While an EOR solution usually means significant savings for providers, in some cases it will be more cost-efficient to hire independent contractors. Note, in doing so the company needs to be extremely careful to avoid the risk of employee misclassification

Global Employer of Record Services: The Future of EOR

1. Hire in Emerging Markets

In the coming years, the role of Employer of Record (EOR) is anticipated to expand significantly as businesses continue to target emerging employment markets. Companies will increasingly rely on EOR services to simplify hiring processes in multiple countries, navigating complex labor laws and regulations. By partnering with a third-party EOR, organizations can streamline their global expansion efforts and remain compliant with local regulations, fostering sustainable growth.

In these fast-evolving economic landscapes, EORs will also help businesses attract and retain the best talent. Companies are more willing to invest in high-potential markets as the EOR model takes the burden of complex legal and administrative tasks off their plates. Additionally, EORs contribute to a stronger employer brand by ensuring a cohesive onboarding experience and benefits administration for new hires.

2. EOR and Remote Employees

The trend of remote work is here to stay, with many businesses embracing distributed teams and remote employees. EORs play a vital role in facilitating smooth employment relationships between companies and their remote workforce. EORs help companies legally employ international workers in different target countries, while managing payroll, taxes, and human resource tasks.

As the demand for remote work grows, EOR services will likely gain even more prominence. Companies with distributed teams can greatly benefit from the expertise and solutions offered by EORs, avoiding potential legal pitfalls and ensuring a positive work experience for remote employees. With the help of EORs, businesses can continue to expand their global reach and access top talent without the burden of managing complex international employment tasks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Using an Employer of Record (EOR) offers several advantages, such as managing payroll, benefits, and risk management on behalf of a company, thus relieving the company of these responsibilities. It also simplifies international expansion, as an EOR can employ and pay full-time employees globally without the need for a foreign subsidiary.

An EOR is responsible for ensuring compliance with local labor laws, including tax withholding, reporting, and payment of payroll taxes. They handle employee contracts, hiring, and onboarding, and ensure that contracts comply with applicable laws and regulations.

The cost of using an EOR service depends on the provider and the scope of services required. Some EORs charge a percentage of the employee's salary, while others may have a flat fee or a combination of both. It's essential to discuss pricing structures with potential EOR providers before making a decision.

An Employer of Record is similar to a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) in that both handle employment administration. However, an EOR becomes the legal employer of a company's workforce, while a PEO typically enters into a co-employment relationship with the client company, sharing employment responsibilities.

Yes, an Employer of Record can be used for global employment. A Global EOR enables companies to employ workers in different countries without establishing a foreign subsidiary or navigating complex international employment laws.

When selecting an EOR, consider factors such as the provider's experience, reputation, and expertise in the target country or industry. Additionally, evaluate the breadth of services offered, responsiveness to client needs, and pricing structure. It's important to choose a partner that aligns with your business goals and requirements.

Article By

Fact checked by Charlotte Evans

Travis is a global business development advisor. He has spent the last 14 years supporting business establishment and development in North America, Southeast Asia, and throughout the world. With multiple degrees from the University of Oregon, Travis currently splits his time between the US, and Bali, Indonesia. At RemotePad, Travis writes about remote work, hiring internationally and PEO/EOR business models.