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Working with a GEO

Earlier we covered the pros and cons of working with a PEO. Many PEOs also support hiring international employees, and you may also see a similar option with GEOs.

A global employment organization (or GEO) is a form of professional employer organization that is an employer of record (EOR) that employs people in foreign countries on behalf of a company that is not incorporated in that country. A GEO processes payroll, withhold taxes and contributions, and ensures compliance with local country employment laws.

There’s ultimately no difference between a PEO, GEO, or EOR—it’s all semantics; they provide the same services. That said, many remote companies that we spoke with found working with PEOs or GEOs for international hiring to be challenging. The key issues are:

  • Transparency. Some PEOs or GEOs may employ other companies behind the scenes, and remote companies have little visibility into whether this is happening or not.

  • Usability. Most PEO/GEO companies lack modern tools and online services. Modern startups are likely going to be frustrated with conducting business via phone and even in some cases, fax machines.

  • Price. While using a PEO/GEO can be less complex and expensive than incorporating yourself, pricing can be opaque and still relatively high.

​new​According to Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab, vetting a GEO is a critical part of the process. This can be time-consuming and costly in terms of legal counsel—typically companies will need to work with multiple GEOs as they expand to more countries. Currently, no single GEO covers every country on the planet, though Remote Employ—which launched in early 2020—aims to provide universal GEO coverage within a matter of years.

​important​Remotive.io also offers a paid Slack channel where remote leaders can ask questions about and compare their experiences with various PEO/GEO companies.

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