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What is global payroll?

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Global payroll refers to managing employee compensation in different countries, including dealing with different local taxes, regulations, and laws, as well as securing employee data and maintaining clear and constant communication with payroll teams.

Global payroll is complex. Companies with a workforce spread out across different countries not only have to be aware of the different regulatory ecosystems that exist, but also of how they might change. These organizations constantly need to ensure they’re ahead of the curve.

Differences between global and local payroll

Local payroll tends to be what people generally think of payroll — i.e:  calculating wages, and making the relevant taxes, benefits and social security deductions to the state and local authorities.

Global payroll, on the other hand, means adding a whole new layer to these processes, currency conversion, country specific differences in compliance, and cross-country communication. See further details on these differences.

4 hurdles with global payroll

The four main hurdles in global payroll tend to include the following:

Taxes and regulations

Regulations differ from country to country, and the same goes for data security and tax laws. Companies operating a global payroll need to be wary of this and ensure they are complying with all relevant requirements.

Currency conversion

Companies without a payment strategy at their disposal often find themselves constantly stressing about cross-border payments.

Data security

Keeping data safe when it’s spread across different countries is doubly difficult. It necessitates not only an understanding of country-specific security risks, but also expertise in how to tackle them.


Communicating across borders can also be tricky. It involves understanding and sensitivity to different cultures. Global communication requires a strategy to ensure that dialogue among different payroll teams remains constant so that any updates or changes to policies remain clear.

How to manage a global payroll

Mastering global payroll really comes down to a certain triangle of considerations which mainly revolve around the following:

  • Building a strong team
  • Implementing a top-notch global payroll strategy
  • Investing in technology and ensuring payroll security

To meet each corner of this triangle, you may want to partner with a payroll and payments solution. The right provider in this case can offer country-specific regulatory expertise, the technology infrastructure to manage global payroll, and the potential to save on costs by streamlining the payments process.

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