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Introduction to Contingent Workforce Payments:

A contingent workforce refers to people who are hired on a non-permanent basis – whether it’s to complete a certain task or fill in a vacancy for a set period. Contingent workers can be independent contractors, non-permanent employees, or freelancers.

Examples of common contingent worker scenarios:

  • In tourism, hiring contingent staff during peak season.
  • For system upgrades, hiring cybersecurity consultants.
  • In event-planning business, hiring extra hands for large-scale businesses.
  • In software development, hiring specialized coders and engineers.

Contingent workers are often referred to collectively as the gig economy. In the US alone, 36% of people who are employed define themselves as independent contractors, according to a report by McKinsey.

Globally, the gig economy is expected to reach 1864.16 billion USD by 2031.

As the gig economy grows and reliance on contractors and freelancers across the globe becomes larger, businesses must learn how to create a steady payment process in order to smoothly manage their contingent workforce.

A contingent worker is an individual who is employed on a non-permanent basis, such as freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or temporary agency workers, typically engaged for specific projects or periods of time.

Key Challenges in Contingent Workforce Payments

Whether it’s the varying payment structures, the international and legal complexities, or the less straightforward resource allocation, contingent workforce payments can be much more complex than paying your everyday employee.

Legal Compliance:

There are all sorts of contingent workers, making classification complicated – especially if you’re hiring contractors in different countries. Unfortunately, incorrect classification is likely to lead to heavy fines.

Varying Payment Terms:

Varying payment terms can make streamlining the payment process much harder. Freelancers and contractors around the world may prefer different ways of being paid – whether monthly, hourly or project based. Companies with a large contingent workforce need to find ways to adapt to this flexibility. This can present an administrative burden for businesses.

International Payment Issues:

Fluctuating currency exchange and different tax laws and regulations make cross-border payments extremely difficult to manage.

Rate Setting:

Setting payment rates can get complex when you’re handling a contingent workforce –especially one that’s spread all over the world. Factors like location, experience, and industry demand all come into play here – not to mention budgetary constraints.

Understanding Workforce Headcount:

Without proper headcount data, budgeting becomes much more difficult and getting your numbers straight virtually impossible. Unfortunately, one glaring problem with operating a contingent workforce is that you’re often jumping between multiple platforms and departments, making keeping track of these numbers a bulky task.

Paying on Time:

For a contingent workforce, the payment process can be complicated by factors like administration, complex approval processes and delays, as a result.

Best Practices for Managing Contingent Workforce Payments:

Maintaining best practices in the context of contingent workforce payments comes down to keeping each stage of the process within one streamlined system, including management, delivery, and compliance.

End-to-end payment management

Make sure you have a clear end-to-end payment management system, one that takes into account invoicing, task and project requests, scope of work, clear approval chains, and, if relevant, timesheet tracking.

Delivery of payments

The last-mile payment stage tends to be the bulkiest and, yet, for some reason, the most overlooked. Make sure you have a system in place that answers to these complexities:

  • Collecting bank relevant bank details
  • Currency management and FX trade/fees
  • Funding options
  • Freelancer payment support

Taxes and compliance

Taxes and compliance should always be top of mind when you’re managing a contingent workforce.

Because of this, make sure that you have an effective strategy in place based on relevant expertise and trusted technology.

The role of technology and automation in payment solutions

With the right technological capabilities, you’re able to streamline your payments while mitigating errors. That gives you an upper hand both in terms of staying compliant and freeing up time to better strategize when it comes to your contingent workforce.

Global Pay Equity and Transparency

Transparency and equity for your contingent workforce is crucial for establishing trust among all your workers – whether contractors, freelancers, or temporary employees.

Without equity and transparency in the pay process, a contingent worker may decide not to offer you their business and you’ll lose out on the best possible talent.

To ensure transparency and equity in your workforce, here’s what you need to do:

Clearly defined compensation frameworks and feedback channels

Make sure you’re transparent with your contingent workers regarding compensation structures, including factors like pay rates and any contractual clauses.

Data analysis, auditing, and standardization

Make sure you have a way to centralize and analyze all your contingent worker data to help you spot pay disparities and standardize your compensation packages accordingly. Plus, make sure to maintain regular audits.

External benchmarking

Compare your compensation rates to those of industry competitors to ensure they’re competitive and appealing enough.

Job classification, evaluation, and review

Make sure you’re classifying your workers accurately based on their roles and responsibilities. Evaluate your classifications regularly to ensure accurate pay scales.

Managing a contingent workforce across the globe often comes with several legal and tax considerations. Here are just some of the biggest ones:

Worker classification

Different countries may classify contingent workers differently. This will affect the payment you offer them. It’s important, therefore, to be aware of these differences.

International and local taxation

When you’re paying a contingent worker, you will have to take into account the relevant local taxes in the country in which the person lives. But that’s not all – with international transfers themselves, there are also additional taxes to consider, like VAT.

Documentation and record keeping

Payment-linked documents need to be kept organized for auditing purposes. Each country will have its own regulations regarding these forms of requirements. For companies with global contingent workers around the world this factor needs to be taken into account.

Benefit eligibility

While in most cases contingent workers aren’t eligible for benefits, in some countries there are some exceptions. It’s important to pay attention to these differences.


Future Trends in Contingent Workforce Payments

So…what’s in store for the future of contingent workforce payments? Here’s what we think:

Increased reliance on automation and advanced technologies

As businesses’ reliance on contingent workers increases, the use of technology will likely increase along with it. Advanced technology concerning AI and automation will play a crucial role in increasing efficiency and keeping errors at bay.

Globalization and Localization

With the increased reliance on contingent workforces going hand in hand with the increase in business’s global operations, the ability to adapt to local regulations is crucial. Payment solutions that can adjust to this new reality will be in top demand.

Improved payment experience

When the gig economy first started expanding back in 2020, research showed just how important payment efficiency was to independent contractors – with over 80% saying it would help them complete their work faster.

Today, that priority is still there. And payment flexibility is likely to get much more focus in the coming years when it comes to pay frequency, speed, and other factors.

Changes to regulations

As the gig economy takes up more market space, regulators are going to pay closer attention to ensure they’re properly classified and compensated – that includes creating a standardized payment experience.

Heightened focus on data security and privacy

Greater reliance on contingent workforce means greater reliance on outside technology, leading to more considerations concerning data protection and security.

Smart Money: How AI Facilitates Cross-Border Payments


Operating a global contingent workforce can be extremely helpful – and extremely complicated – especially from the payments perspective. If your plan is to build a team of trusted go-to independent contractors across the globe, make sure you do it right:

  • Get access to the right expertise
  • Choose the best technology to streamline the process
  • Build a workforce management system that allows you to bypass the risk of error.

Want to learn more about how to maintain all these points at once? Book a demo today!