Global Payroll Complexities in Pharmaceutical Industries

Global Payroll Complexities in Pharmaceutical Industries

Expanding work boundaries is no longer a strenuous task to implement. The remote work concept implemented in the past few years has paved the way for businesses to easily hire people abroad. When an organization has a diverse workforce, it is also significant that they ensure payroll compliance to continue their overseas operations smoothly. 

Payroll, as we are all familiar with, is not an easy task, and the level of difficulty increases when it comes to managing global payroll. Similar to in-country payroll, when global payroll compliance is not adhered to, there may be various consequences, including penalty, legal problems, and discontinuation of work in international waters. All businesses are required to observe taxes, labor laws, and other relevant elements in payroll compliance. 

For this reason, businesses employ PEO and/or EOR services to ensure they comply with the payroll of the country they are working in. A large percentage of organizations have leveraged the expertise of payroll solutions to reduce the risk of legal compliance.


The practice of managing employee salaries while adhering to the relevant tax rules, set work hours, bonuses, and other minimum benefit standards in a particular country is known as global payroll compliance. Employers are expected to adhere to any modifications made to labor policies and to effectively implement them during the payroll period. This provides workers with financial security while they are employed, irrespective of the country they work in. 

Let us understand more about global compliance related to pharmaceuticals:

Every country has its own set of rules and regulations that it follows, and each country’s employment system is different. The statutory and regulatory compliance of a given country is formed on the foundations of their economic structure, legal framework, societal priorities, history and culture, and, to an extent their legal traditions. Businesses need to have thorough knowledge about their work system as non-compliance can result in financial penalties, loss of company reputation, and legal repercussions. 

One of the main reasons for this diversified statutory and regulatory framework is the nation’s sovereignty. Every country is governed by a legal system where the government has several laws that govern the society and the functional businesses. These laws cover several issues – big and small. Some of them include tax regulations, labor practices, customer data protection, and more. Therefore, it is likely that the statutory and regulatory laws will be different for every country, too. 

For example, in India, the EPF or Employees’ Provident Fund is a mandatory contribution for employees working in certain establishments. Both the employer and the employee contribute to this fund monthly . It is a long-term savings scheme that offers financial security to employees when they retire. Along with the EPF is the ESIC or the Employees’ State Insurance, which provides health benefits to the employees.

On the contrary, the United States has a federal Social Security program that offers security to retired, disabled, and survivors of workers who are deceased. Both employees and employers contribute a set percentage to this Social Security system, which is used wisely to provide benefits to eligible individuals. 

The tax regulations, in particular, are quite different in countries. While some countries follow complex tax systems where elements such as industry specifics, regional variations, and individual conditions are considered, other countries offer very simple tax systems. 

For instance, Switzerland uses a simple tax system with straightforward federal and cantonal taxes. The United States, on the other hand, has a complex tax structure with various federal, state, and local taxes, intricate deductions, and a comprehensive Internal Revenue Code. 

Even the society and culture of a nation impact their regulatory compliance. If a country prioritizes labor rights and always focuses more on employee benefits, working hours and wages,a different country will pay more heed to environmental regulations and thus prioritize eco-friendly payroll processes that align with their green initiatives. 

Moreover, international businesses also need to consider trade regulations, export-import laws, and sanctions imposed by different countries. These regulations control the movement of goods and services across borders and ensure fair trade practices.

What are the key challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies in managing global payroll across different countries?

It is challenging enough to manage direct deposits, tax deductions, record keeping, and other payroll intricacies when operating in home country; the administrative burdens multiply when you operate internationally. When it comes to operating globally, issues associated with payroll and compliance are only heightened. From remembering regulatory obligations to dealing with inefficient systems, there are different problems that one may come across. Some of these challenges have been mentioned below:

Understanding Different Regulations and Requirements 

You could be knowledgeable about employee classifications, retirement plans, and tax deductions in your home country, but staying up to date on payroll laws for different countries is not easy. To be compliant, you must comprehend the legal and regulatory requirements of that particular country. You will also be met with staggered deadlines for tax returns and reporting. For instance, the deadline for corporate taxes in Australia is within the 15th of the seventh month following the tax year, but in the United States, this deadline is within the 15th of the fourth month. 

When it comes to pharmaceutical companies, there may be a few additional compliances that they may have to take care of as they tend to operate in highly regulated environments. Mentioned below are a few additional compliances that they should be aware of. 

  • Compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices
  • Drug Approval and Registration 
  • Compliance with Export and Import Control
  • Clinical Trials
  • Intellectual Property Protection 
  • Compliance with Anti-Bribery and Corruption Laws 

Keeping tabs on the cost incurred in paying out wages, taxes, and benefits can be challenging when you have separate payroll procedures for each country where you do business.

Data Standardization is Lacking 

When you work in many countries, you will probably receive different types of data in different formats. It is difficult to collate and understand data that have been sent in different forms. 

Technology Integration 

It is not just the rules and regulations but also the technology used in a nation that may be different. Integrating payroll systems across borders can be quite challenging as the software, technologies, and infrastructure may be different. 

Multiple Banking Systems 

Every bank has its own set of policies and financial regulations on which they run. It is not easy to coordinate with so many banks, especially in different countries. Moreover, differences in time zones may further complicate the situation when it comes to bank holidays, differences in payroll cycles, etc. 

What are the implications of currency exchange rates on international payroll management for pharmaceutical companies?

Currency exchange rate disparities have a significant impact on pharmaceutical businesses’ foreign payroll. It can cause issues such as accuracy in budgeting, compliance with various tax and labor rules, and cost management. Abrupt changes may have an impact on the true worth of employee compensation, which may affect the retention of talent and general job satisfaction. Businesses may use techniques like forward contracts or currency hedging to reduce risks. Pharmaceutical companies must continue to be flexible and agile in their payroll procedures due to the ever-changing nature of currency markets. They also need to be up to date on the political and economic issues that affect exchange rates in order to handle foreign payroll effectively and make sound financial decisions.

What strategies can pharmaceutical companies adopt to ensure accurate and timely payroll processing while complying with diverse international regulations?

Employer of Record and Professional Employer Organization are two types of third-party services that specialize in managing these global payroll complexities. These experts work in the nations where your organization conducts business. Hence, the experts are appropriately informed on labor laws and local rules. Businesses can assign devoted experts to handle critical duties like payroll processing, management, and tax compliance by outsourcing their payroll services. This will free up the business’s management team so they can concentrate on their primary business goals.

Globalization has allowed entrepreneurs to employ talent from different nations to drive their growth, helping them expand their operations across borders. While employing people from abroad presents great potential, it also presents a challenging terrain of international payroll hazards. If these risks are not addressed, there may be financial penalties, legal issues, and reputational harm.

Financial Penalties – Local authorities frequently apply financial penalties for violating payroll requirements. These fines may increase in value according to the length and seriousness of the non-compliance. Many companies have had to pay heavy fines because of global non-compliance. 

Some examples of companies that have had to pay are- Google LLC was fined € 50 million on January 21, 2019 by the National Data Protection Commission committee. The same committee also held them responsible for breaches in GDPR. The famous multinational company H&M incurred a fine of € 35.3 million after the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information found that the company was monitoring the lives of their employees for performance evaluation purposes. 

Legal Issues – When companies fail to adhere to global compliance by violating labor laws, improper payroll practices, and have tax discrepancies, they may also have to face lawsuits besides incurring fines and penalties. 

For instance, in the United States, misclassification of workers, overtime violations, discrimination, and harassment all lead to legal action. In Canada, workplace safety violations, minimum employment standards violations, and unfair dismissal can land the company in legal trouble. Companies in the United Kingdom that violate working time directive, minimum wage and misclassify employment status will have to face legal consequences.

Reputational Damage – Customers may rapidly become disheartened and lose faith in the business if they do not comply. Non-compliance is not hidden, and people are notified about it quickly. Consumers will search for alternatives and select providers who place a higher priority on security and compliance.

Managing a multi-country payroll is a challenging task, meaning you must employ a provider with the required technology, experience, and skills to perform the job. Here are some points to keep in mind when selecting an international payroll provider:


Complying with international payroll regulations is a primary concern for any company managing payroll across multiple nations. Growing internationally presents various compliance problems for businesses, with payroll, tax, and benefits being a burden. 

Businesses should ensure that the selected service provider has an excellent record in global compliance. They should be qualified to provide professional guidance on payroll laws, taxes and benefits administration in each of the present and potential markets on the company’s list of international expansion destinations.

Fast and Easy Implementation

If handled internally without professional assistance, implementing a worldwide payroll can be an extremely time-consuming and drawn-out procedure. Organizations should find out the provider’s implementation process upfront because a global payroll solution should facilitate quick and simple implementation. Make sure you look into the implementation process and the time that they will take. You must look into some of their previous or existing customers who can offer insight into the process. 

User Experience 

No matter how many features a global payroll system offers, it may not be helpful if it is difficult to use. Solutions for payroll software should be simple to use and intuitive. Additionally, they should be customized to meet the specific requirements of the company. Companies should choose the features and payroll data insights they need, and they should request comprehensive information about the software platform. You must be given full access to the platform, and it should be updated with modern features. It should also be a cloud-based payroll solution to access it easily from anywhere of the world.


Since global expansion is an ongoing process, the business will be open to exploring new international lands to grow and develop. Scalability is thus essential for a global payroll solution. If the payroll provider can easily add more countries to the payroll, then it will be easy for the business to expand its boundaries. 

Advanced reporting

Another feature to consider when selecting a global payroll system is the ability to report on payroll globally. A global payroll platform should offer various options, such as reporting for individual countries, certain regional hubs, and all geographies combined. The business should be able to view and analyze the same pay elements and cost factors for all payroll countries and easily draw comparisons between them. Reliable and transparent payroll data serve as the foundation for intelligent company choices.

Overcoming Outsourcing Challenges 

While outsourcing is a perfect way to mitigate global payroll complexities, there may be some challenges that may come your way when you are outsourcing. Some of them have been mentioned below:

Communication Barriers

Maintaining appropriate contact with your outsourcing provider may be difficult if you are new to the outsourcing process. Language and cultural hurdles are often a reason. There is also a possibility that you and your payroll outsourcing partner do not communicate consistently.

Selecting a global outsourcing supplier whose staff speaks English or other languages of choice would make it easier to communicate, hence avoiding this difficulty. You must communicate with your provider in advance and obtain all the required explanations to maintain a close communication loop with them. Selecting a payroll outsourcing company with cutting-edge tools and communication technologies that support the maintenance of positive relationships can be helpful.

Real Time Reports 

Receiving real-time reports would help with audits and compliance problems, as well as the speedy and less labor-intensive retrieval of sensitive and important data. Select a trustworthy brand, and don’t be afraid to inquire about policies, technology, and availability of free trials. Choose a partner that uses cutting-edge and reliable technologies, especially if they provide cloud payroll services that make it easy to access data instantly.

Hidden Costs 

Certain outsourcing providers may bill you for extra costs that exceed your initial budget by including software updates, troubleshooting, redeployment, etc. Such unanticipated and hidden expenses can cost you more than keeping an internal payroll staff – here, outsourcing might not be the best choice. Before finalizing the agreement, request an upfront cost estimate. You may create the ideal cost estimate for outsourcing by clearly defining the project needs and your budget so you do not incur any hidden costs. 

Employing an Expert to do the Job

PaySquare specializes in comprehensive global compliance solutions tailored specifically for pharmaceutical companies. With a focus on meticulous adherence to international regulations, we ensure that payroll management, taxation, and labor practices meet the highest standards across diverse jurisdictions. From navigating intricate tax landscapes to addressing complex labor laws, our dedicated team streamlines global compliance and provides your business with peace of mind.