Adam DeSanges Nov 30, 2023 3:56:36 PM 8 min read

Split Payroll Explained: Benefits and Implementation for Global Teams

Are you familiar with the challenges of managing payroll for a global workforce? Split payroll might be the solution you're looking for. This article dives into the intricacies of split payroll, a system where employees' salaries are allocated in both their home and host country currencies.

We'll explore its operational mechanics, highlight its key benefits like exchange rate risk mitigation and tax compliance simplification, and discuss its growing importance in today's interconnected business world. Ideal for HR professionals and global business leaders, this piece offers a comprehensive look at how split payroll can streamline international payroll processes and support a diverse, global team.

Understanding Split Payroll

Split payroll is a nuanced solution in global workforce management. At its core, it's a payroll system where an employee's salary is allocated in two different currencies: the currency of their home country and that of the host country where they work. This bifurcation of salary payment has become a key strategy for businesses that are expanding their operations across international borders.

The concept of split payroll is not new, but its adoption has accelerated in recent years, particularly among multinational corporations and businesses with a significant global presence. The reason for its growing popularity is closely tied to the increasing trend of workforce globalisation. As companies venture into new markets, they often require employees to relocate or undertake long-term assignments in foreign countries. Split payroll offers a flexible and efficient way to manage the financial aspects of these international postings.

Read also: Payroll Breakdown Guide


Split payroll is particularly prevalent in regions with a high concentration of multinational companies and expatriate workers. For instance, in Europe, where cross-border employment is common due to the European Union's policies on labour mobility, split payroll is a widely adopted practice. It's also gaining traction in Asia-Pacific regions, driven by the rapid economic growth and international business expansion in countries like China, India, and Singapore.

In the United States, while the concept is known, its application is more selective, often reserved for senior-level employees or those with critical roles in overseas projects. The varying tax laws and financial regulations across states add another layer of complexity to its implementation in the U.S.

The Role of Technology in Split Payroll

The integration of advanced payroll and HR technology has been pivotal in facilitating the widespread adoption of split payroll. These modern systems bring several key capabilities to the table:

  • They can adeptly handle transactions in multiple currencies, a fundamental requirement for split payroll.
  • These systems streamline the process of converting currencies, reducing manual errors and saving time.
  • They are designed to stay updated with the tax laws of various countries, ensuring that companies remain compliant across different jurisdictions.

This technological backbone simplifies the implementation of split payroll, making it a more accessible and reliable option for companies managing a global workforce.

Read also: Employee payroll taxes article


How Split Payroll Works: A Closer Look

The concept of split payroll, while simple in its fundamental premise, involves a strategic approach to employee compensation, especially for those on international assignments. Here’s a deeper dive into its mechanics:

1. Determining the salary split: The first step in split payroll is deciding how the salary will be divided between the two currencies. This decision is typically based on a combination of factors, including the cost of living in the host country, the employee's personal financial obligations in both countries and the stability of the respective currencies. For example, if an employee has significant financial commitments in their home country, a larger portion of their salary might be allocated in their home currency.

2. Application to different types of compensation: Split payroll can apply to various components of an employee's compensation package, not just their base salary. This can include bonuses, allowances, and other forms of remuneration. Each component may have a different split ratio, depending on its intended use or the employee's preferences.

3. Dynamic adjustments: The split ratio isn't necessarily fixed and can be adjusted over time. Factors such as changes in the cost of living, currency fluctuation, or a change in the employee's personal circumstances can necessitate a review and adjustment of the split.

Here’s a practical example to examine: 

Consider a US-based employee assigned to work in Germany. The company might decide to pay 40% of their salary in USD to cover stateside obligations like mortgage or savings, and 60% in EUR for local living expenses in Germany. This ratio would be periodically reviewed to ensure it remains appropriate and beneficial for both the employee and the employer.

The actual processing of split payroll involves managing two separate payroll systems or a unified system capable of handling multi-currency transactions. This includes calculating the correct amount in each currency, applying the appropriate tax deductions, and ensuring timely and accurate payments in both currencies.

Exploring these details, it becomes clear that split payroll is a comprehensive approach to international compensation, designed to align with the diverse and dynamic needs of a global workforce.

Key Benefits of Split Payroll

Split payroll is not just a solution; it's a strategic advantage for businesses with a global footprint. By implementing this system, companies can offer a range of benefits that extend beyond basic payroll processing, enhancing both their operational efficiency and their employees' satisfaction. 

Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Mitigation of exchange rate risks: Split payroll shields international employees from exchange rate fluctuations, ensuring their income remains stable and predictable.

  • Simplified tax compliance: By aligning salary parts with respective tax jurisdictions, split payroll simplifies the complex process of adhering to multiple countries' tax laws.

  • Enhanced financial stability for employees: Paying a part of the salary in the home currency allows employees to manage their home country's financial obligations more effectively, offering them financial security.

  • Facilitates budgeting and financial planning: Split payroll enables employees to better plan their finances, allowing informed decisions on savings and expenditures in both their home and host countries.

  • Adaptability to employee needs: The system's flexibility allows for tailoring the split ratio to each employee's unique needs, accommodating changes in living costs or personal circumstances.

  • Boosts employee morale and loyalty: Implementing a split payroll system demonstrates a company's commitment to its employees' well-being, enhancing morale and fostering loyalty, particularly among those relocating internationally.

Key Takeaways

Split payroll is a practical and strategic solution for businesses with a global workforce. It goes beyond just processing paychecks, helping companies stay compliant and efficient while also making life easier for employees working abroad.

Looking to streamline your international payroll? Emerald's global payroll services can help. We offer expert solutions to simplify the complexities of managing payroll across different countries. Contact us to find out how we can help you manage your global payroll needs more effectively.


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.