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How to manage payroll for a small business?

How to manage payroll for a small business

Hire and pay talents
with Horizons in
180+ countries

Key Takeaways

1. Effective payroll management is crucial for legal compliance and employee satisfaction.

2. Streamlining payroll processes can significantly reduce administrative burdens.

3. Choosing the right payroll management tools is essential for efficiency.

4. Understanding local tax laws and regulations is fundamental to managing payroll effectively.

This article provides a comprehensive guide on payroll management, aiding small business owners in making informed decisions.

Definition of a small business

A small business is typically defined by its number of employees, annual receipts, and operational scale. In many countries, a business with fewer than 500 employees is considered small, while in some companies having 50-250 employees are termed ‘SMB’ or Small And Midsize Business.

The small business categorization is influenced by, and affects, regulatory requirements, tax obligations, and eligibility for certain support programs.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and their success hinges on effective operational practices, including payroll management.

What does managing payroll include? Process and structure

01. Employee Classification: Distinguishing between full-time, part-time, contractor, and freelance staff to apply appropriate tax codes and benefits.

02. Staff Time Tracking: Recording hours worked and paid or unpaid leaves to calculate due wages or timely salary accurately.

03. Calculating Pay: Determining gross pay, deductions, and net pay for each employee.

04. Tax Withholding and Reporting: Withholding the correct tax amounts and reporting to tax authorities.

05. Payroll Recording and Reporting: Maintaining detailed records for each pay period and reporting as required by law.

Why are efficiently managed payroll processes important?

Timely and accurate employee compensation is a primary employer responsibility. Consistent, correct payments are crucial, as payroll discrepancies can significantly affect your business.

For instance, nearly half of the workforce may start job-hunting after only two payroll errors, risking the loss of valuable employees.

A poorly managed payroll system extends beyond delayed payments. Many companies fail to accurately classify workers, calculate withholdings, or maintain proper records. In 2020, the IRS issued approximately $6 billion in penalties to employers for related errors.

Beyond impacting team morale, inefficient payroll management can lead to substantial legal penalties. Thus, maintaining a robust payroll system is not merely a function of HR; it is a legal obligation and fundamental to your business’s integrity.

What should you remember when managing payroll for a small business?

Stay Informed: Adapt to Legislative Shifts

It’s essential for small businesses to stay updated with the latest labor and tax regulations to ensure compliance.

🇬🇧 For instance, in the UK, recent updates to the Employment Allowance can affect the reduction of National Insurance contributions, altering payroll calculations.

Maintain Accuracy: Uphold Precision in Calculations

Accurate payroll calculations are non-negotiable to prevent legal issues and maintain employee trust.

🇺🇸 For example, in the United States, adherence to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is crucial for correctly determining overtime pay.

Keep Records: Systematic Documentation

Keeping well-organized payroll records is a legal requirement and critical for audit preparedness.

🇦🇺 In the case of Australia, the Fair Work Act mandates that businesses retain payroll records for seven years to satisfy the Fair Work Ombudsman’s requirements.

Prioritize Security: Safeguard Payroll Data

The protection of payroll data against unauthorized access is of paramount importance.

🇨🇦 For example, under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), businesses are required to handle personal information, such as payroll data, in a manner that ensures its security.

How can an EOR help you manage payroll for a small business?

An Employer of Record (EOR) can serve as an intermediary to handle employment tasks, including payroll management. By outsourcing these functions, businesses can benefit from the EOR’s expertise in local compliance, tax laws, and administrative tasks, which is particularly beneficial for small businesses looking to expand internationally or streamline their domestic operations.

How does Horizons manage payroll for small businesses?

01. Compliance with local tax laws: An EOR like Horizons can manage payroll by ensuring full compliance with local tax laws for small businesses.

🇩🇪 For example, if a small business operates in Germany, Horizons would handle the complexities of German tax law, from income tax to social security contributions, ensuring all payroll activities align with local legislation.

02. Conversion of currencies and International Payments in local currencies: For small businesses with employees in different countries, Horizons can facilitate the conversion of currencies and execute international payments. This is particularly useful for businesses that have remote workers across the globe, as Horizons would manage the various exchange rates and banking regulations involved.

🇮🇳 When paying monthly salaries to an IT team in India, Horizons would disburse payments in Indian Rupees. 

03. Administration of employee benefits: Horizons can also manage the administration of employee benefits, which varies by country.

🇧🇷 In Brazil, where the 13th salary is a mandated benefit, Horizons would calculate and distribute this additional payment to employees, ensuring the small business complies with local customs and laws.

04. Risk Mitigation and Legal Representation: In case of disputes or legal challenges related to employment, an EOR like Horizons serves as the legal employer, mitigating risks for the small business.

🇫🇷 For example, in France, where labor laws are particularly stringent, Horizons would take on the responsibility for legal compliance, reducing the potential legal exposure of the small business.

Onboarding and Offboarding Employees: Lastly, Horizons can handle the onboarding and offboarding processes, which include various payroll-related tasks such as setting up new employees in the payroll system or ensuring final paychecks are distributed according to local laws.

🇯🇵 For instance, while working with employees and companies in Japan, Horizons would ensure that specific final pay regulations are met when an employee leaves the company.


Benefits of partnering with Horizons EOR for global payroll management

Instead of setting up a new foreign entity, hiring and managing staff globally and seeking income tax advice from a freelance consultant – all of which are time-consuming and tedious tasks – an EOR like Horizons can support your journey by taking on the following tasks for you:

01. With Horizons as your EOR, you do not need to register for an Employer Identification Number in a foreign country. 

02. Horizons will recruit, benchmark and decide on Pay Schedule and Salary Status on your behalf after including your inputs. Additionally, Horizons can also outline your payroll policy and processes for you. 

03. Horizons’ one-stop platform will act as your Payroll System and portal for managing benefits, leave, and other Human Resources processes. 


Payroll management is a critical component of running a small business. It requires a solid understanding of the business size, structure, and adherence to country-specific legal requirements. Employers must ensure accuracy, maintain records, and stay updated with regulatory changes. By partnering with an EOR, small businesses can manage payroll and tax compliantly, allowing them to focus on growth and stability. The key lies in simplicity, security, and strategic planning.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

An EOR can manage all aspects of payroll for a small business, including calculating pay and deductions, issuing payments to employees, handling payroll taxes, and ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. This allows small business owners to focus on core business activities without worrying about the complexities of payroll.

The benefits of using an EOR for payroll include saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent on administrative tasks, reducing the likelihood of payroll errors, staying compliant with changing payroll laws, and potentially gaining access to better benefits for employees due to the EOR’s larger scale.

While there is a cost to using an EOR, it can be cost-effective for small businesses that may not have the in-house expertise or resources to manage payroll efficiently. An EOR can help avoid costly legal and compliance mistakes and the expenses associated with payroll software and staff training.

To start working with an EOR, a small business typically must enter into a service agreement with the EOR provider. This process involves discussing the business’s specific payroll needs, the services the EOR will provide, and the terms of the agreement, including fees. Once the agreement is in place, the EOR will take over the payroll responsibilities, and the small business will provide the necessary employee information and funds to cover payroll and taxes.

Hire and pay talents
with Horizons in
180+ countries

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