Adam DeSanges Oct 19, 2023 3:16:45 PM 14 min read

From Gross to Net: Understanding Payroll Calculations

The allure of foreign markets is palpable for companies worldwide. Many business owners dream of taking that bold leap, expanding their brand across borders, and embracing global growth. But as thrilling as it sounds, the complexities of financial logistics often go unnoticed, lurking behind the scenes. And right at the heart of this is the nuanced world of international payroll.

So, with international expansion comes the world of global payroll, and suddenly, terms like “gross-to-net” are popping up, leaving you a tad overwhelmed. We've all been there. The financial jargon can, at times, seem like a foreign language, especially when you're trying to make sure every penny is accounted for correctly.

Fear not, for you’re not alone on this journey. This article aims to demystify those payroll puzzles that can be particularly perplexing when branching out globally. We'll clarify all you need to know about the "gross-to-net" concept and, for businesses eager to keep their payroll processes seamless and accurate, delve into how an Employer of Record (EOR) can be the anchor you've been searching for.

What Does “Gross-to-Net” Mean?

At its core, the term “gross-to-net” is a simple concept, albeit wrapped in layers of financial intricacies. Imagine your company's total earnings as a pie, fresh out of the oven. The entire pie represents your “gross” earnings. Now, as you begin to slice away portions of it for various deductions—be it taxes, employee benefits, or other statutory contributions—what remains is your “net” earnings, the actual amount an employee takes home.

Venturing into international markets, this distinction becomes even more crucial. Different countries come with their own set of rules, deductions, and regulations, all of which can significantly alter those slices you're taking from your earnings pie. Keeping tabs on this transformation from gross to net is not just a good financial practice; ensuring your business complies with local laws and fosters goodwill among your global workforce is essential.

So, while the term might seem complex on the surface, think of “gross-to-net” as the roadmap that traces the journey of earnings, marking every stop and checkpoint until it reaches its final destination: your employees' pockets.

Why Is It Important to Know About Gross-to-Net Deductions?

Embarking on the journey of international expansion brings a multitude of opportunities. But with these opportunities come responsibilities, particularly in the realm of payroll. Understanding the dynamics of gross-to-net deductions is more than a box-ticking exercise; it’s a cornerstone for ethical and efficient business operations in unfamiliar territories.

Now, you might wonder, "What makes these deductions so pivotal?" Let's unwrap three reasons that shed light on the significance of grasping the gross-to-net concept in the global business landscape:

1. Compliance with local regulations

Navigating the international business world means constantly adapting to a kaleidoscope of rules and regulations. Every country has its specific payroll laws, and missing even a minor detail can lead to hefty fines or legal entanglements.

Being well-versed in gross-to-net deductions ensures that your business remains on the right side of the law. It's not just about understanding the numbers; it's about fostering a culture of payroll compliance and due diligence in every market you venture into.

2. Building trust among employees

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. And when they trust that their pay is calculated fairly and transparently, it nurtures loyalty and commitment.

A clear understanding of gross-to-net deductions guarantees that there are no unpleasant surprises for your staff come payday. This transparency boosts morale and solidifies your reputation as an employer who values and respects its workforce, irrespective of location.

3. Accurate financial forecasting

The path to global dominance is paved with sound financial planning. And an integral part of this planning hinges on accurate payroll calculations.

When you have a firm grasp on gross-to-net deductions, you're better equipped to forecast financial trends, plan budgets, and strategies for growth. This clarity in numbers ensures that every financial decision is informed, calculated, and aligned with your business goals on the global stage.

Examples of Gross-to-Net Deductions

When it comes to gross-to-net deductions, the specifics can vary wildly from one country to another. Here's a glimpse into how these deductions play out in five different countries, shining a light on the diverse landscape of international payroll.

The UK

Payroll in the UK is underpinned by a system that's evolved over centuries. A primary deduction from an employee's gross pay is the Income Tax, which works on a progressive scale.

Additionally, employees and employers alike contribute towards the National Insurance. And for those employees enrolled in auto-enrolment pension schemes, a slice of their gross pay ensures their retirement future.


With its robust economy, Germany has a multifaceted payroll system that you need to be aware of. Deductions from an employee's gross salary come in various forms, the most prominent being income tax, solidarity surcharge, and, for some states, the church tax.

German social security contributions further add layers to the payroll complexity, encompassing health insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, and long-term care insurance.


Japan juxtaposes ancient traditions with cutting-edge innovation, and its payroll deductions reflect a structured system. Employees here see significant deductions such as income and local residence taxes.

Furthermore, the Japanese social insurance component is vital, branching into specific segments like health insurance, welfare pension insurance, and employment insurance.


Down under, Australia's vast landscapes are mirrored by its expansive payroll considerations. The predominant deduction from an employee's gross salary is the income tax, administered by the Australian Taxation Office.

In addition, the Superannuation Guarantee plays a pivotal role. While this mandated contribution by employers doesn’t directly diminish an employee’s gross earnings, it’s an integral facet of the Australian financial ecosystem, ensuring retirement security.


Brazil, with its vibrant culture, offers a diverse payroll deduction palette. Income Tax (IRPF) and the Brazilian Social Security contribution (INSS) are at the forefront. It’s crucial that businesses looking to hire from Brazil pay attention.

Yet, diving deeper into the payroll narrative, other potential deductions surface, often hinging on specific employee contracts. These can range from union contributions to deductions like meal tickets.

How to Calculate Gross-to-Net Deductions?

As we’ve seen, gross-to-net deductions might feel a tad overwhelming, especially when trying to translate this concept into actionable steps.

But fret not! Breaking it down into bite-sized chunks can make this task much more manageable. So, let’s take a look at how these deductions generally work:

Step 1: Identify gross earnings

Before anything else, you need to pinpoint what constitutes an employee's gross earnings. This typically includes their base salary, overtime, bonuses, commissions, and any other financial perks they might be entitled to. Remember, this is the full amount before any deductions come into play.

Step 2: Understand mandatory deductions

Each country has its unique set of mandatory deductions. From taxes to social security contributions, it's crucial to be well-acquainted with what's expected in the specific country you're operating in. A good practice is to maintain an updated list or chart of these deductions for quick reference.

Step 3: Factor in voluntary deductions

Beyond the mandatory contributions, employees might opt for other voluntary deductions. This could include pension contributions, healthcare schemes, or even charity donations directly from their pay. Ensure you have a clear understanding and record of what each employee has opted into.

Step 4: Utilise reliable payroll software

While it's entirely possible to calculate these deductions manually, why not let technology lend a helping hand? Invest in a reliable payroll software that's tailored for international businesses. Not only does this streamline the process, but it also minimises the risk of human errors.

Step 5: Cross-check and verify

Always, always double-check your calculations. This step ensures that your employees receive the correct amount and that your business remains compliant with local regulations. A monthly or bi-monthly review can help catch any discrepancies and rectify them in a timely manner.

How an EOR Can Help With Gross-to-Net Deductions

Expanding globally? It's definitely an audacious move that can unlock untold potential for your business. However, with new territories come new rules, especially in the intricate world of payroll. Here's where an Employer of Record (EOR) steps in. 

Let’s see how partnering with an EOR can make your global payroll a much smoother process:

Comprehensive knowledge of local laws

Every region has its own set of rules, intricately woven with local customs, laws, and regulations. While one might see this as a challenge, an EOR views it as familiar terrain. Equipped with deep-rooted knowledge, they deftly navigate these landscapes.

This expertise is highly practical, ensuring that as you focus on growth and innovation, the EOR ensures every payroll decision aligns perfectly with local norms, keeping unforeseen regulatory troubles at bay.

Streamlined payroll processes

A global presence means dealing with multiple payroll systems, each with its quirks. It's like trying to tune several musical instruments to produce a harmonious sound. An EOR helps synchronise these processes.

Beyond just maintaining harmony, there's an emphasis on precision. With an EOR's centralised approach, the chance of discrepancies reduces dramatically, ensuring that every employee receives their due on time, no matter where they are.

Efficient handling of deductions

Deductions can be a tricky business, varying widely from one country to another. An EOR, with its vast experience, manages these with an ease that comes from handling countless such scenarios.

It's not just about accurate calculations; it's about maintaining transparency. When employees see clear, error-free deductions, it fosters a sense of trust, reinforcing the belief that the company values their contribution and well-being.

Reducing administrative burden

Global payroll can quickly become an avalanche of administrative tasks. Imagine trying to keep track of paperwork, regulations, and updates for multiple countries! With an EOR shouldering this responsibility, your teams are liberated.

This freedom isn't just about reduced workload; it can be transformative. Your HR and finance teams can channel their energy towards strategic, value-added tasks, driving the company forward, rather than getting entangled in the nitty-gritty of administrative tasks.

Final Thoughts

Global expansion offers immense potential for growth, but it's also rife with complexities. One of the most significant challenges businesses face is understanding and managing international payroll processes, from the initial gross salary to the final net pay.

EORs like Emerald Technology specialise in this very field, offering expertise that ensures not only compliance but also efficiency. We bring a deep understanding of local regulations, streamlined processes, and a commitment to ensuring both businesses and their employees are treated fairly and transparently.

So, why venture into the unknown alone? A trusted partner can save time, reduce costs, and prevent pitfalls. If that sounds like something you’re interested in discovering, reach out to us. Let's make your global expansion journey a successful one.

Adam DeSanges

Part of Emerald since 2006, Adam has personally developed an Executive Search process that has been incorporated throughout the entire Emerald Technology business and has enabled our team to offer an unrivalled, collaborative service to our clients. As one of our Company Directors, he is responsible for leading, training and mentoring this methodology.

End-to-end recruitment FAQ's

What locations do Emerald search, hire and payroll in?

We offer a limitless solution. We source, onboard and payroll employees in every region worldwide (except sanctioned countries.)


Who are Emerald’s customers?

We support Pre-IPO, VC or PE backed technology start-ups. We are a trusted partner to some of the most innovative and globally recognised technology companies since 2000.


How quickly can Emerald onboard employees?

We can compliantly onboard employees on average of just 24-72 hours.