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Unlocking business potential: The role of Employer of Record (EOR) in Asia

Access to talent
International Hiring
CXC Global7 min read
CXC GlobalJuly 10, 2024
CXC Global

Understanding Employer of Record (EOR) in the Asian market

The complex and diverse regulatory landscape of the Asian market, with each country often having its own unique labour laws, tax regulations, and compliance requirements, poses significant challenges for businesses seeking to expand their global footprint. If you are such a business, an Employer of Record (EOR) is something you should look into.

What is an Employer of Record (EOR)?

Before examining the complexities of EOR in the Asian context, it’s essential to clearly understand EOR and its crucial role in global workforce management.

Definition and purpose

As mentioned here, an EOR is a third-party organisation that serves as the legal employer of a company’s workforce in a foreign country. 

Here’s an example:

A UK-based tech company wanting to hire software developers in Singapore could partner with an EOR to handle all local employment regulations and payroll. In contrast, the UK company manages the developers’ day-to-day work.  

An EOR handles all employment legal and regulatory aspects, allowing the company to focus on managing its employees’ daily tasks and overall business goals. This model streamlines global expansion by eliminating the need for companies to set up local entities in each country where they hire.

Key responsibilities and services

EORs offer a comprehensive range of services that cover the entire employee lifecycle. Key responsibilities and services commonly include:

  • Payroll and tax administration: Ensuring accurate and timely payroll processing, tax deductions, and adherence to local tax regulations.
  • Benefits administration: Managing employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and other statutory benefits as per local laws.
  • HR compliance: Ensuring compliance with local labour laws, employment contracts, and regulatory requirements.
  • Onboarding and offboarding: Facilitating seamless employee onboarding and offboarding processes, including contract management, background checks, and termination procedures.
  • Risk mitigation: Mitigating legal and financial risks related to misclassification, non-compliance, and other employment-related issues.

How EOR operates in the Asian market

As mentioned above, the EOR model is particularly advantageous in the complex Asian market, where diverse labour laws and regulations can be challenging to navigate. 

Here’s what EORs can do to help businesses expand confidently in the region while minimising risks:

Attracting top international talent

One of the primary benefits of partnering with an EOR in Asia is the ability to tap into a vast pool of highly skilled talent. EORs achieve this through: 

Navigating diverse labour laws

EORs are well-versed in the intricacies of labour laws across different Asian countries. They ensure that businesses comply with local regulations regarding minimum wage, working hours, termination procedures, and more. This expertise protects companies from potential legal pitfalls and ensures the fair treatment of employees, making the company more attractive to potential hires.

Efficient recruitment strategies

EOR providers often have established networks and local connections, allowing them to identify and attract high-calibre professionals quickly and efficiently. This can be particularly beneficial in highly competitive markets where finding qualified candidates can be challenging, such as Hong Kong, giving companies an edge in attracting skilled professionals.

Exploring new markets with EOR

EORs also play a pivotal role in helping businesses swiftly and efficiently enter new Asian markets.

Benefits of quick market entry

Partnering with an EOR enables businesses to establish a presence in new Asian markets in days or weeks rather than the months or years required to independently set up a legal entity. This rapid entry provides a competitive edge, allowing companies to seize opportunities and capitalise on market trends swiftly.

Case studies of EOR in Asian countries

At CXC, we’ve witnessed firsthand the effectiveness of our EOR services model in facilitating market entry in different regions. We partnered with a multinational corporation to compliantly engage contingent workers globally, including in countries like China and Japan, where labour laws can be particularly nuanced. By leveraging our EOR solution, the company could quickly and efficiently onboard workers, ensuring compliance with local regulations and minimising risks.

This case study demonstrates how EOR providers like us at CXC Global can simplify global expansion for businesses, offering a comprehensive solution for managing an international workforce.

Facilitating acquisitions and mergers

EORs can also help facilitate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the Asian market.

Ensuring compliance during transitions

M&A activities often involve significant changes to the workforce, including employee transfers, terminations, and harmonising benefits and compensation packages. EORs can help smoothen these transitions, ensuring compliance with local labour laws and minimising disruptions to operations.

Practical examples of successful mergers

  • The Deloitte 2024 M&A Trends Report highlights the increasing complexity of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, especially in dynamic Asian markets.  In these scenarios, ensuring compliance with diverse labour laws and managing the integration of workforces can be daunting.  EOR providers like CXC can streamline this process, providing a smooth transition for employees and minimising compliance risks.
  • A LinkedIn article provides a real-world example of how an EOR facilitated a successful merger in the APAC region. The EOR handled payroll, benefits, and tax compliance for the newly acquired employees while navigating local labour laws and providing cultural support. This allowed the acquiring company to focus on integrating the two businesses, leading to increased market share and revenue growth.

Avoiding misclassification of independent contractors

As companies expand globally, using independent contractors can be an attractive option for flexibility and cost savings. However, misclassifying these workers as employees can lead to significant legal and financial risks. 

Risks of misclassification in Asia

When businesses misclassify independent contractors as employees in Asia, they may face back taxes, penalties, legal disputes, and damage to their reputation. For example, in Japan, misclassification can result in fines of up to JPY 300,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months and potential financial penalties related to tax and social security shortfalls.

It also doesn’t help that in some countries, the legal distinction between employees and contractors is not as clear-cut as in others, increasing the risk of misclassification. EORs with in-depth knowledge of local labour laws can help companies accurately classify workers and avoid these potential pitfalls.

EOR solutions for contractor management

EORs can assist with drafting compliant contracts, ensuring proper tax reporting and payment, and managing other administrative tasks. By partnering with an EOR, businesses can confidently onboard independent contractors while minimising the risk of misclassification and its associated consequences.

Benefits and strategic advantages of using EOR in Asia

As outlined earlier, the EOR model offers numerous benefits and strategic advantages for businesses seeking to expand or operate in the Asian market. 

Simplified global expansion

Partnering with an EOR offers businesses a streamlined and expedited approach to expanding their operations internationally.

Reducing administrative burdens

Establishing a legal entity in a foreign country can be time-consuming and complex, requiring extensive knowledge of local laws and regulations. EORs handle all the administrative burdens associated with employment, including registration, payroll, taxes, and compliance, allowing businesses to expand quickly and easily into new markets without the hassle of setting up their entities.

Streamlined HR and payroll management

EORs offer centralised HR and payroll management services, ensuring compliance with local regulations. In countries like South Korea, where payroll tax calculations can be complex, an EOR can provide accurate and timely processing of employee compensation.

Ensuring local expertise and compliance

EORs possess in-depth knowledge of labour laws, tax requirements, and cultural norms in various Asian markets, helping companies navigate the complexities of operating in these jurisdictions.

Country-specific regulations

Asia’s diverse legal and regulatory frameworks can be challenging for foreign companies. For instance, in Singapore, employers must adhere to the Employment Act, which governs working hours, overtime pay, and employee leave entitlements. EORs stay up-to-date with the latest developments, ensuring their clients remain compliant and avoid costly penalties or legal disputes.

Leveraging EOR’s knowledge for compliance

By leveraging an EOR’s expertise, companies can mitigate non-compliance risks in Asian markets. In India, for example, labour laws vary by state and industry, making it difficult for foreign companies to navigate. An EOR can guide compliance with the relevant labour laws, such as the Minimum Wages Act and the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act.

Ensuring success with an Employer of Record

While partnering with an EOR offers plenty of benefits for businesses expanding in Asia, maximising the value of this relationship requires proactive management and a clear understanding of potential challenges. 

Summary of key challenges and solutions

Working with an EOR in Asia presents unique challenges. However, with the right approach and solutions, companies can overcome these obstacles and achieve their desired outcomes.

Importance of proactive management

Proactive management is crucial for maximising the benefits of an EOR—this involves maintaining regular communication with the EOR to ensure alignment on goals and expectations. 

Ongoing compliance monitoring is essential to avoid surprises and ensure adherence to local laws and regulations. Employee engagement should also be a priority, ensuring employees feel supported and valued, even when managed through an EOR, to maintain high morale and productivity.

Leveraging EOR benefits effectively

To effectively leverage an EOR’s benefits, businesses should use the EOR’s local market insights to make informed decisions about hiring and operations. Customising HR policies and benefits packages to meet local standards and employee expectations is also essential. By delegating administrative and compliance tasks to the EOR, businesses can focus on their core activities and strategic growth.

When selecting an EOR, it’s essential to consider factors such as the EOR’s experience in the region, the range of services offered, and their ability to ensure compliance with local laws. For more information, read our comprehensive guide.

Final thoughts on EOR engagement

Engaging an EOR in Asia is not a one-time transaction but an ongoing partnership that requires nurturing and adaptation. Companies must approach the relationship with a long-term perspective, 

Continuous improvement and adaptation

The dynamic nature of the Asian market requires businesses to improve and adapt their strategies continuously. Partnering with an EOR allows for scalability, providing solutions that can grow with your company and accommodate changing needs and market conditions. Some EORs offer flexible arrangements that can be adjusted as your business evolves, ensuring sustained compliance and efficiency.

Long-term benefits of proper EOR management

When managed effectively, an EOR partnership can deliver long-term benefits for Asian businesses. EORs can contribute to increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved overall business performance by mitigating risks, ensuring compliance, and streamlining operations.

If you want to partner with an EOR, we at CXC offer comprehensive EOR solutions, including payroll management, compliance assurance, employee benefits administration, and risk mitigation. Contact us now to learn how we can support your business expansion in Asia.

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About CXC

At CXC, we want to help you grow your business with flexible, contingent talent. But we also understand that managing a contingent workforce can be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Through our MSP solution, we can help you to fulfil all of your contingent hiring needs, including temp employees, independent contractors and SOW workers. And if your needs change? No problem. Our flexible solution is designed to scale up and down to match our clients’ requirements.

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