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Payroll is one of those parts of the business that you don’t really want to hear about. It should just happen. Payroll experts, though, know that making it ‘just happen’ takes a lot of work.
From initial set-up to ongoing monitoring, payroll is a such a fundamental part of the smooth running of any organization that assessing where the risks lie is the first step in preventing a breakdown. This is particularly true as our workforce gets more mobile – and global – making the payroll process more complex to manage efficiently. The first step in getting control over this complexity is to know the elements you need to monitor.
While every employer is different, risk in their payroll strategy can be collated into several buckets. Future trends, shifting legislation, people, processes, and systems are the big-ticket items you need to address.
While not the riskiest part of the payroll process per se, the new norm of a globally mobile workforce has the potential to impact on all other areas. With people more likely to work in different jurisdictions throughout the year, it’s incumbent on the organization they work for to keep track of this movement and pay accordingly.
With the pandemic making work from home so accessible for people, a whole new world of opportunities have opened up. Immigrants may choose to go home for several months and see their families and friends, young people saving for a property may move to a place with cheaper rental prices, while high-earners may choose to swap one area for another throughout the year as a lifestyle choice.
Once they reach a threshold of time spent in the foreign country, all those elements that you need to consider for fully foreign-based employees come into play, including:
Also added into the mix is the problem of overpaying tax authorities and either being unable to recover it or spend significant administration time doing so.
With this newly mobile workforce, tracking their movements becomes a compliance issue. Firstly, you need to set-up a system to identify and track internationally mobile employees. While self-reporting is a must, the organization itself must make this self-reporting accessible and known. This means set-up of forms, communicating its existence, and then getting people to comply regularly, which all sounds easier than it is in practice.
Once you’ve collected the data, what do you do with it? What’s the difference between an employee usually based in the UK spending six months in the U.S., Portugal or the Seychelles?
It’s down to the employers to get those initial payroll payments, and their tax implications, correct. If they don’t, they can be liable for governmental fines or committing the cardinal sin in payroll – not paying employees accurately and on-time.
Top solutions: Outsource payroll to a third-party to keep track of your mobile workforce and relevant legislation or track employee movements and hire-in expertise, or train internal staff.
With more tracking comes more data, with more data comes more risk. Data laws differ (sometimes wildly) in different jurisdictions, so employers will need to manage these differences.
To take the U.S. versus the EU, the U.S. has generally weighted protection of data as a commercial asset, while the EU has put individual rights first through its GDPR legislation. While the two regions have similar requirements in lots of respects, in some cases what is normal in the U.S. will get you into hot waters in the EU.
When devising your payroll strategy, how you collect, store, and use data is a crucial element to consider and plan for.
Top solutions: Contract a payroll solution provider with the highest data security standards, including ISO27001, GDPR, and multilevel user access for transfers and approvals.
Payroll is particularly risky when it comes to FX rates because payroll payments have to be made. You can’t simply wait until the currency rate becomes more favorable or change to a different source, like you might be able to do with purchases of foreign goods and services.
Small fluctuations in the currency (on either end) can mean a higher cost to you in terms of meeting payroll obligations, or the employee having less spending power.
This is also not considering the FX rates you pay as the payroll payment crosses borders. With payroll generally being the biggest single cost for most businesses, small percentage cuts over time can add up to big costs.
Top Solutions: Lock-in/guarantee exchange rates, monitor exchange rates as a matter of the payroll process, use low-cost FX payment providers.
A statistic that may surprise, and alarm, business leaders is that payroll fraud happens in 27% of all businesses. More than 11% of those frauds involve payroll loss of $48,000 on average, and on average the schemes went undetected for 36 months.
Overall, a study by the Association of Certified Fraud found payroll fraud cost an average of 5% of a company’s revenue.
One of the reasons payroll fraud goes undetected for so long is that it’s seen as a stable entity i.e. people do today what was done yesterday and don’t analyze what’s actually going on within the system. As such, even though it’s not a pleasant thing to acknowledge, payroll fraud is a genuine risk to every company and needs to be continually monitored.
Top solutions: Regular audits by management, leverage payment systems that flag unusual behavior, create a culture of anti-fraudulent behavior.
A risk to the bottom-line of the business, as well as reputational risk with employees, is inefficient payroll payment systems. Beyond usual Excel sheets, unnecessary manual processes, and just plain human error, inefficiency can come in the form of additional costs because of the payment rails being used for payroll.
If you are using an expensive provider or the traditional correspondent banking system, you may well be subject to high bank charges and FX rates compared to modern payment solutions. With payroll such a large percentage of the business, these unnecessary surplus payments are hard cash going out the door each and every month – for years.
These processes can also lead to shortfalls in payments, or delays in receiving payments, leading to unnecessary follow-up from your finance department. By leveraging the global payments infrastructure built by FinTech’s over the last decade and more, either through API integrations or white-label solutions, you’ll be able to pay in more currencies, for less, and in a fully regulated and secure environment.
Top solutions: Partner with a third-party payroll specialist using modern payment rails.
The biggest crisis generally come when the thing you think is working perfectly suddenly breaks down. In a business setting, payroll is one of those big risk elements.
Devising a coherent strategy in terms of regular audits on the current system, and looking for improvements, will make a real difference to a business – both in preventing damaging events, but also increasing revenue through the cutting of costs.
Knowing where to look for risk is the first step in devising that payroll strategy. After that, how to ‘make payroll happen’ will become much clearer.
In today’s increasingly digital and hyperconnected world, it has become easier than ever to expand into new markets. Technology has made it possible to connect with colleagues, clients, and customers — no matter where they are located. A key component of successful international expansion is establishing an effective global payroll strategy, but processing global payroll is a challenging endeavor.
Whether your organization has been operating overseas for a while, or you’re just at the stage of exploring international recruitment, there are a myriad of complexities associated with global payroll.
One of the most important factors when it comes to processing payroll for a global workforce is choosing a global payroll model that’s right for your business.
Below, we look at the three key global payroll models to help you determine which is the best fit for your organization.
With this model of global payroll, the company has multiple contracts with individual local providers, usually one for every country in which they need payroll. Before the widespread use of technology, the local vendor model was the original solution for processing payroll across multiple countries. The main drawback of this model of international payroll is that it is extremely limited in terms of process efficiency, data management, and compliance. Today, this model is most common among organizations with a single overseas location or where there is a small headcount.
A company using the aggregator model of global payroll uses a single payroll vendor. In turn, this vendor partners with or acquires local providers in other countries to process all payroll for a company under a single contract. The main benefit of this model is that it allows companies to operate in multiple international locations while minimizing vendor management. Companies can view country-specific or regional payroll information using reporting tools or dashboards maintained by the aggregate provider. However, while the data may be presented by the aggregator in a standardized format, the information is pulled from multiple disparate systems used by the in-country providers – and consolidated into the dashboard for easy viewing. From a compliance perspective, this presents challenges as companies need to be confident that their aggregate provider can ensure compliance for every in-country vendor they partner with, especially in terms of data protection and security.
By using a unified payroll solution an organization processes all payroll in all countries using a single, centralized payroll platform. Compliance and analytics are two of the most important benefits of using a unified global payroll solution. However, not all payroll platforms have the same features and functionality — so it’s important that organizations look at their options carefully to determine the best fit.
Now that you are familiar with the three key models of global payroll, it’s time to choose the right one for you. To help you determine the best fit for your business we put together some questions to further help with the decision-making process. You can access those in Global Payroll: The Essential Guide. Your answers will help you choose the right payroll model for your business needs.
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