What You Need to Know About EORs, the Next Big Trend in Flexible Working
Ruairi Kelleher, Atlas’ Ireland-based Europe GM, explains how Employer of Record software can help companies hire abroad without compliance headaches.
“Companies that have exclusively operated in one country may find themselves looking outside of their domestic market for the first time in 2023–not just to access new customer markets, but to connect with global talent,” according to Rick Hammell, CEO and founder of Atlas.
Atlas provides employer of record (EOR) software services to companies worldwide. Simply put, an EOR is a third-party organization that steps in to handle a lot of the admin work for companies hiring staff based internationally.
Things like compliance, legal and other issues often crop up when companies hire people abroad, so EORs step in after the initial recruitment process for employers to outsource these admin headaches.
Prosperity, a Dublin-based recruitment agency, in a report from February predicted that flexible working practices like letting employees work remotely from other countries and digital nomadism would be hugely popular for 2022.
Hammell believes that, as remote work practices like nearshoring and offshoring continue to grow, EOR services will become more common and in-demand.
“From an HR perspective, the most essential and prevalent tool we’ll see these companies implementing is an employer of record platform to serve as an ‘in-country expert’ as they scale their business globally,” says Hammell.
With Irish workers starting to embrace flexible work, Atlas is well placed to further expand its presence in Ireland.
SiliconRepublic.com spoke to Atlas’ general manager for Europe, Ruairi Kelleher, about the company’s growth plans for Ireland and what EORs offer employers.
With 16 physical offices worldwide and other assets, Atlas is well situated and committed to helping its clients expand their global remote workforce.
Atlas expansion in Dublin
Atlas recently signed a lease on a new office in Dublin as it sees a lot of potential in the European market, Kelleher said.
“The company has made a big commitment to Europe and Ireland is at the center of that.”
When he started at the company in May, it had six employees in Ireland. But Kelleher says, “We’ll have 40 by the end of the year; we’ll have 60, probably 60 to 70 by the end of the first half of next year.”
Atlas’ global head of sales and several other senior executives, including Kelleher, are based in Ireland.
Kelleher brings many years of experience in relevant sectors such as global mobility, taxation and international payroll. He previously was CEO of Irish global payroll tech company Immedis, a spin-off of the Taxback group.
He left Immedis for Atlas because, after scaling the company from 10 to 400 employees over a five-year period, he was ready for another challenge. The EOR market has many parallels to the international payroll sector, which interested him. He’s even more excited by the potential of the EOR industry because of surging demand for remote and flexible work.
Atlas is an interesting organization—it’s global, yet local, with local structures, management teams and cultures, says Kelleher.
The Pandemic Factor
Flexible working boomed because of the pandemic.
“I’ve never seen a macro-environment change so quickly–obviously driven by a very unwelcome reason, but nonetheless, you’ve got to make the most of a crisis and I think this is one of the benefits that came from it,” he said.
“Historically, I remember sitting with HR leaders where you’d have an office. You draw a circle around the office and that was your access to talent. That was your talent pool. And now you can basically draw a circle around the world and that’s your talent pool. That change has happened so quickly.”
Kelleher thinks the change happened quicker than governments and companies could manage. While he thinks that conceptually speaking, remote working is “quite an easy thing to get your head around,” it’s not easy from a compliance point of view.
"For the most part, the legislation isn’t there to cater to these types of contracts,” said Kelleher, “that’s where companies like Atlas stand to gain.”
”It’s a huge opportunity for us to help support organizations hire anyone anywhere in the world. It’s our critical mission,” he said.
Flexible working can be advantageous for employees and companies. For smaller companies, it can help them “break down borders” when recruiting talent, giving them access to a wider pool. This enables them to compete with larger organizations, according to Kelleher.
Atlas employs more than 50 lawyers in-house globally, and it also has a strong global legal network with some of the biggest law firms in the world.
Kelleher described the service it provides as a comfort to customers. “Our value proposition is compliance and agility,” he said.
“We provide that local expertise on the ground in countries so our customers don’t need to undergo the cost of professional advice, setting up entities, the cost of managing entities, the costs of accounting, legal…just for the sake of employing one or two people in an area that they may not stay in.”
As Kelleher noted, companies turn to Atlas because they are wary of running afoul of the law when it comes to tax and employment in other jurisdictions.
“Compliance becomes a big issue because it’s generally only when something goes wrong that the bell goes off and they need an immediate solution,” said Kelleher.