10 Things To Remember When Employing International Workers

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Tapping into the international labor market gives organizations access to a larger pool of talent and is an ideal way to move into foreign markets or build a global brand. With many organizations moving to fully remote or hybrid working, a cross-border workforce is the natural next step for companies looking to expand.

At the same time, recruiting and managing international workers adds a layer of operational complexity. Practical challenges such as time zones and language barriers can be time-consuming to navigate, as can highly complex compliance issues. 

If you’re considering employing international workers, here are 10 things to keep in mind.


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1. Employment structure

One of the first considerations when hiring international workers is how to hire them. To accomplish this, your organization could set up a local branch or hire workers on a contract basis only.

Another alternative is to use an Employer of Record (EOR). An EOR is a local company that hires local employees on behalf of international organizations. While the international organization manages the employee, the EOR provides HR, payroll, legal, and other advisory services to navigate local compliance processes.

2. Recruitment methods

Recruitment methods for local staff may not be suitable for other labor markets, so you may have to adapt your usual practices accordingly. For example, print ads in newspapers may be a better way to connect with quality candidates than online job boards or through LinkedIn. 

It’s also crucial for organizations to be aware of the information employers must provide (or obtain) from candidates. This may be different from the requirements in the country where the organization is based. For instance, in some countries, a physical medical examination is a common feature of the recruitment process.

3. Timing

Recruiting internationally can take longer than doing so locally, so you should start early when running a global recruitment drive. 

Not only do time zones need to be factored in, HR processes such as confirming qualifications or prior experience may also take more time in another country. The use of interpreters adds further complexity and potential delays to the process, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead as early as possible.

4. Onboarding process

A smooth onboarding process is essential to employee retention, especially when it comes to international workers. When hiring candidates abroad, review onboarding processes and make appropriate changes to accommodate international workers. 

These adaptations might include offering live or recorded training sessions, or translating key onboarding documents into various languages.

5. Payroll

One of the most important considerations when employing international workers is deciding how to pay them, both in terms of salary and the payroll process itself. You could choose to pay workers in the same role the same salary, regardless of location, or use a pay banding system to reflect regional costs of living. 

For payroll, pay workers using a standard currency or their local currency. This may attract conversion and transaction charges, so you need to decide whether to absorb this cost or pass it on to the employee. 

Managing a global payroll can be a challenging task, which is where a human resources (HR) solution such as Remote comes in handy.

One of the most complex aspects of employing international workers is legal compliance. Different regions have different tax, social security, work safety, discrimination, and privacy laws, just to name a few. Organizations with a geographically diverse workforce need to know and comply with the regulatory framework for each country. 

These legal systems constantly evolve. Not only do you have to familiarize yourself with local law when hiring international candidates, you should stay up to date with future developments.

7. Benefits

A major aspect of the legal framework around hiring international workers is benefits. Different countries may provide different statutory benefits, such as sick, maternity, or vacation leave, public holidays, mandatory pension payments, or health insurance. 

In addition to these, employees may expect specific benefits based on the workplace culture in their country (e.g., a four-day workweek or an early finish on Fridays in summer). You should account for cultural expectations around benefits and consider how to accommodate them.

8. Cultural differences

Understanding different cultures is crucial to managing cross-border workforces. We may live in a highly globalized world, but local experiences still shape workers’ approaches and beliefs towards work. Depending on their background, employees from different countries may have culturally unique attitudes to leave, management methods, and communication styles. 

Cultural awareness training may be necessary for organizations expanding into the international labor market. It’s important to focus on cultivating a culture of inclusion that highlights diversity as an asset to the company and its shared goals.

9. Managing a remote team

When hiring international workers, you will likely end up with semi-remote or entirely remote teams. As the last few years have shown, there are many advantages to remote working for employers and employees, but there are challenges too.

Managing a cross-border team remotely requires excellent communication to ensure employees feel connected with the wider organization, regardless of location. Daily check-ins, regular virtual team meetings, and effective onboarding processes are useful tools to achieve this.

10. Language

Hiring international workers often results in a multilingual workforce. This can be especially advantageous if you’re trying to break into international markets. At the same time, you may need to accommodate for language barriers. 

For example, certain situations may require an interpreter. Or you may need to translate key organizational documents, such as employment contracts, into workers’ first languages to ensure they’re understood.


Compared to hiring locally, employing international workers can be complex, time-consuming, and present a steep learning curve. Yet, by approaching the challenge with the above points in mind, you can streamline the process to build or expand a geographically diverse workforce, and reap the benefits.