How to Pay Employees in India

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When expanding your business into India or starting a new venture, understanding the payroll process is critical.

Paying employees in India is not just about disbursing salaries but also involves navigating through complex tax structures, adhering to statutory compliances, and understanding cultural nuances.

This guide provides you with a step-by-step approach to ensure your international payroll is processed efficiently, your employees are satisfied, and your business is compliant with Indian laws.

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The Best Payroll Tools and Platforms for India

When it comes to paying employees in India, leveraging the right tools and platforms can simplify the payroll process.

Employers should look for payroll software that caters to Indian tax laws and regulatory requirements.

These tools often come with features like automated tax calculations, integration with attendance and leave management systems, and direct deposit capabilities.

Best Indian Payroll Platforms:

1. Parallel

Not just a payroll solution; it's a comprehensive platform that simplifies expansion into India. Its Indian Employer of Record (EOR) and payroll solution ensures compliance and streamlined payroll management.

2. Zoho Payroll

Designed for Indian businesses, it handles everything from employee onboarding to generating Form 16.

3. GreytHR

A popular HR and payroll software in India, providing end-to-end payroll processing with compliance management.

Digital Payments

India's payment ecosystem has undergone a digital revolution over the past two decades. Employers can also consider the following digital payment methods for salary disbursement:

Bank Transfers: The most common method, offering convenience and security.

UPI (Unified Payments Interface): A real-time payment system that enables instant salary transfers.

NEFT/RTGS: For bulk transfers, these systems are efficient for monthly payroll disbursement.

Preparing for Challenges

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Resource Allocation for Payroll Management

For your business to succeed with hiring and paying employees in India, allocating resources effectively is crucial.

This includes:

  • Human Resources: Having a dedicated payroll specialist or team ensures compliance and accuracy.
  • Financial Resources: Budgeting for software subscriptions, payroll training, and potential compliance penalties is important.
  • Time Resources: Payroll is a recurring task. Companies must allocate time for payroll processing, tax filing, and staying updated on regulatory changes.
  • Outsource Payroll Functions: Collaborating with a local payroll service provider can help mitigate the risks of non-compliance.
  • Consult Tax Experts: Tax consultants can provide valuable insights into efficient tax planning for employees.

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How to Pay Remote Employees in India - Your Options

Option 1: Establishing a Local Entity in India

If you're considering a long-term commitment with a significant workforce in India, setting up a local entity may be worthwhile.

It's a path often taken by larger corporations with the means to handle the legal and financial overhead. By establishing a legal entity, you employ Indian workers directly.

This means you'll have full autonomy over your operations, but with that comes the responsibility of adhering to India's complex labor and tax laws at both the national and state levels.

You'll need to secure local payroll processing and sort out employee benefits from scratch. This route demands a robust understanding of local compliances and a significant investment in time and money.

Option 2: Collaborating with a Global Employment Partner

Teaming up with a global employment partner, like Parallel, is a streamlined alternative for foreign businesses.

Instead of creating your own entity, a partner with an established legal entity in India can employ and compensate workers on your behalf.

This approach bypasses the need for you to delve into the intricacies of setting up a business in India, from payroll and benefits administration to tax filings and legal compliance.

Services like Parallel, with their own in-house legal framework in India, offer comprehensive solutions, ensuring that your employment practices are secure and in line with local laws.

Option 3: Engaging Workers as Independent Contractors

Another strategy is to engage Indian workers as independent contractors, which could be viable for short-term projects or when working with self-employed professionals.

However, tread carefully: India's employment laws are strict about misclassifying employeesas contractors.

This misstep is seen as a way to circumvent the full spectrum of employee benefits and protections, and it carries risks.

For genuine contractor relationships, platforms like Parallel can facilitate payments, helping you to maintain clear boundaries between contractors and full-time employees.

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What Currency Do You Use for Remote Payments in India?

In India, you'll need to compensate employees in the local currency, the Indian Rupee (INR).

Contractors might have the option to be paid in different currencies through foreign currency accounts, but generally, local currency payments are standard to avoid unnecessary complexity.

Keep in mind the unique Indian numbering system when dealing with currency figures. For example, one million rupees is notated as 10,00,000 INR, which deviates from the more familiar 1,000,000.00 format seen in many other countries.

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Understanding Business Costs

It’s crucial to be aware of the costs involved in hiring employees in India.Here are some key expenses:

  • Recruitment Costs: This can include advertising positions, hiring recruitment agencies, and the time cost of the hiring process. Strategizing the recruitment process is essential, as outlined in the article on the best recruitment strategies to attract and retain talent.
  • Training and Onboarding: New employees require orientation and training, which involves both direct and indirect costs.
  • Operational Costs: These include the costs of providing workspace, equipment, and utilities.
  • Compliance Costs: Keeping up with statutory compliance involves administrative costs and potential legal fees.
  • Employee Benefits: Aside from statutory benefits, competitive benefits packages may include bonuses, health insurance, and retirement plans.

The Indian Tax System and Compliance for Employers

When hiring in India, it’s crucial for employers to understand the country's tax structure and compliance requirements. The Indian tax system can be complex, with various brackets and rates applicable to different income levels. To simplify this, let’s break down the essential points that employers must consider.

Understanding Indian Income Tax Brackets

The Indian government has outlined specific tax brackets for individual taxpayers, which are updated periodically. As of the latest update, here's a simplified list of tax brackets for individual salaries:

  • Income up to INR 2,50,000: No tax
  • From INR 2,50,001 to INR 5,00,000: 5% tax
  • From INR 5,00,001 to INR 10,00,000: 20% tax
  • Above INR 10,00,000: 30% tax

Employers must withhold taxes based on these brackets.

For example, an employee earning INR 6,00,000 annually will pay INR 12,500 (5% of INR 2,50,000) plus INR 20,000 (20% of INR 1,00,000), totaling INR 32,500 in taxes.

Compliance for Employers

Employers must deduct taxes (TDS - Tax Deducted at Source) from their employees’ salaries and deposit them with the government. Timely deposit of TDS and filing of tax returns is mandatory to avoid penalties. For non-compliance, the penalties can be stringent, including fines and imprisonment.

Social Security Contributions

India has a social security program that requires both employer and employee contributions. Employers are responsible for making these deductions and contributions accurately. These include:

  1. Provident Fund (PF): A mandatory savings scheme where the employer and employee both contribute 12% of the employee's basic salary plus dearness allowance.
  2. Employees’ State Insurance (ESI): Applicable to employees earning up to INR 21,000 per month, with the employer contributing 4.75% and the employee 1.75%.

Salary Components and Perquisites

The salary structure in India typically includes various components like basic salary, house rent allowance (HRA), and other allowances. Certain perquisites, like a company car or accommodation, are taxable and must be accounted for by employers when calculating TDS.

Cost to Company (CTC)

The Cost to Company is the total cost that an employer incurs for an employee, inclusive of all statutory and non-statutory expenses. For example, if an employee's basic salary is INR 50,000 per month, adding PF, ESI, gratuity, and health insurance, the CTC may reach approximately INR 60,000 per month.

Additional Employer Responsibilities

  1. Professional Tax (PT): This state-level tax varies and is applicable in most Indian states. It is usually a small amount deducted monthly from the employee's salary.
  2. Gratuity: Payable to an employee who has completed five years of service, calculated as 15 days of the last drawn salary for each year of service.
  3. Leave Encashment: Employees are entitled to a certain number of paid leaves per year. Unused leaves can be encashed.

Record-Keeping and Reporting

Maintaining accurate payroll records and filing annual returns with the Provident Fund and ESI authorities is necessary. Employers must also issue Form 16, which is a certificate of TDS, to employees annually.

Penalties for Non-Adherence

Failure to comply with tax laws can lead to penalties, including interest on delayed payments and fines. In severe cases, non-compliance can result in prosecution.

Interested in Streamlining Your Payroll in India?

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