EOR vs. PEO vs. Dev Agency vs. Own Entity: Selecting the Best Hiring Option for India Expansion

Discover how to tap into India's rich talent pool and propel your business to success in this dynamic market.

EOR vs. PEO vs. Dev Agency vs. Own Entity: Selecting the Best Hiring Option for India Expansion


As the global economy continues to evolve, India has emerged as a prominent hub for international companies seeking to expand their presence and tap into its vast market potential. With its burgeoning workforce, thriving tech industry, and conducive business environment, India presents a multitude of opportunities for organizations looking to benefit from this dynamic landscape.

In recent years, the interest of international companies in India has grown exponentially. However, navigating the Indian labor market and understanding its legal and regulatory complexities can be daunting for foreign companies. One critical aspect that demands careful consideration is the hiring option that best aligns with an international company's strategic goals and operational requirements. The decision to establish a physical presence through a subsidiary, set up a branch office, or engage a local hiring mechanism can significantly impact the success and sustainability of their Indian operations.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various hiring options available to international companies in India and focus on one of the most popular choices – the Employer of Record (EOR). We will compare EOR with other alternatives, such as Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), development agencies, and establishing an independent legal entity (i.e., a subsidiary), providing you with valuable insights to make an informed decision.

Comparing EOR vs. PEO vs. Dev Agency vs. Own Entity

Here's a comparison table highlighting the differences between Employer of Record (EOR), Professional Employer Organization (PEO), Own Legal Entity, and Software Development Agency when it comes to hiring in India:

Factors Employer of Record (EOR) Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Own Legal Entity Software Development Agency
Compliance Expertise Specializes in local labor laws, tax regulations, and employment practices to ensure compliance with India's legal landscape. Focuses on compliance, but may not have the same depth of expertise as an EOR. Companies are fully responsible for compliance, requiring in-depth knowledge of Indian laws and regulations. May have expertise in industry-specific regulations, but compliance responsibility lies with the hiring company.
Flexibility and Scalability Offers remarkable workforce flexibility, enabling swift scaling of teams based on project demands. Provides some degree of workforce flexibility but may not be as agile as an EOR. Offers complete control over workforce flexibility and scalability. Flexibility depends on the software agency's capacity to source specialized talent for the project.
Administrative Support Assumes responsibilities for payroll management, employee contracts, benefits administration, and HR tasks, freeing up resources for the hiring company. Provides HR services, but may not handle all administrative aspects like an EOR. Companies must establish and manage their HR and administrative functions. Focuses on project-specific tasks, and the hiring company retains administrative control.
Market Entry Acceleration Enables swift market entry, allowing companies to test the Indian market or undertake short-term projects without establishing a separate legal entity. May not offer the same level of market entry speed as an EOR, but still allows quicker access to the Indian market. Requires time and resources for legal entity setup, potentially delaying market entry. Projects can begin once a contract is signed, but might take time to onboard the right talent.
IP and Invention Rights Protection Typically handles employment contracts and ensures proper IP rights protection. May handle IP matters to some extent, but expertise might vary. Provides full control over IP rights, with the hiring company responsible for ensuring protection. Should have clear agreements and policies in place to safeguard IP rights.
Cost-Effectiveness Offers cost-effectiveness in the short term due to lower upfront costs compared to establishing a legal entity. Cost-effective with tailored HR solutions, but ongoing fees may accumulate. Long-term cost-effectiveness as the hiring company has full control over expenses. Upfront costs might be higher but can be cost-effective due to specialized expertise.
Talent Pool Selection Talent pool may be limited to general roles and skills offered by the EOR. Offers access to specialized talent pools for specific industries or technical domains. Companies can access a broad talent pool based on their hiring preferences and requirements. Provides access to a diverse talent pool with specialized software development skills.

Employer of Record vs. Setting up Legal Entity

When expanding their presence in India, international companies often face a critical decision: whether to opt for an Employer of Record (EOR) or establish their own legal entity in the form of a subsidiary or branch office. Each option comes with distinct advantages and challenges, impacting the company's legal, financial, and operational landscape.

Legal Implications


  • Pros: Choosing an EOR allows companies to enter the Indian market swiftly, as the EOR takes care of legal compliance, labor contracts, and other regulatory requirements. This mitigates the complexities of understanding and navigating India's intricate labor laws, providing a compliance buffer.
  • Cons: Companies might have less control over specific legal aspects, as the EOR acts as the formal employer on paper. This lack of direct legal control can sometimes lead to potential misunderstandings or disputes.

Establishing Own Legal Entity:

  • Pros: Setting up a subsidiary or branch office grants complete legal control and autonomy over the company's operations in India. It provides the ability to structure the entity according to the parent company's preferences and strategies.
  • Cons: The process of establishing a legal entity in India can be time-consuming, involving additional costs, paperwork, registrations, and approvals. Additionally, companies are responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable Indian laws, which may require legal expertise. In certain countries/jurisdictions, the cost of legal compliance may increase as the parent company will now be classified as having international operations.

Financial Implications


  • Pros: Opting for an EOR model often involves lower upfront costs, as the company does not have to invest in establishing a separate legal entity. It can be a cost-effective solution, especially for short-term or project-based engagements.
  • Cons: The EOR charges service fees for its administrative and compliance support, which can be higher than the ongoing costs of managing a subsidiary in the long run.

Establishing Own Legal Entity:

  • Pros: Once established, a subsidiary or branch office can lead to potential cost savings in the long term, as the company has more control over expenses and can adapt to suit local market conditions.
  • Cons: The initial setup costs, ongoing maintenance, and compliance-related expenditures can be substantial. For companies with limited resources or uncertain market conditions, this financial commitment may pose a significant risk.

Operational Implications


  • Pros: Engaging an EOR streamlines the hiring and onboarding process, allowing companies to quickly access local talent and begin operations without delays. It enables faster scalability and workforce flexibility.
  • Cons: The level of operational control may be relatively lower as the EOR manages various HR functions (e.g., providing standard employee contracts). This could impact the company's ability to implement specific HR policies or operational practices.

Establishing Own Legal Entity:

  • Pros: With a subsidiary or branch office, companies have direct operational control, which facilitates seamless alignment with the parent company's policies and procedures. This provides a consistent brand experience across the globe.
  • Cons: Companies must invest in building and managing their operational infrastructure, which can be time-consuming and may divert focus from core business activities. This will also require the setup of admin and HR teams.

For global companies with long-term aspirations of establishing operations in India, the legal entity route provides greater system control and is therefore the best option. However, this necessitates investments in both time and resources. The EOR route arises as a favorable option for initial hiring for companies seeking to quickly launch operations and who wish to experiment prior to making such commitments.

Employer of Record vs. Development Agency



  • Pros: An EOR offers considerable workforce flexibility, allowing companies to swiftly hire and scale up or down as project demands fluctuate. This agility is particularly beneficial for time-sensitive or dynamic software development projects.
  • Cons: While EOR provides flexibility in staffing, it may have limited expertise in specialized software development skills, and the talent pool available through an EOR may not be as extensive as that of a dedicated software agency.

Software Development Agency:

  • Pros: Specialized software agencies have a talent pool with diverse skill sets and expertise, ensuring access to niche talents and in-depth technical knowledge. They can assemble dedicated teams based on the project's specific requirements.
  • Cons: The hiring process through a software agency may take longer compared to an EOR, potentially impacting the project's immediate start date.

IP and Invention Rights Protection


  • Pros: An EOR typically handles employment contracts and ensures that intellectual property rights are well-defined and protected, offering peace of mind to the hiring company regarding ownership of the software developed.
  • Cons: In cases where the EOR doesn’t have well-defined IP protection policies, ensuring comprehensive intellectual property protection might require specific legal expertise and communication between all parties involved.

Software Development Agency:

  • Pros: Reputable software agencies often have well-established IP protection policies and agreements. They are well-versed in safeguarding the client's intellectual property rights and offer expertise in handling IP-related matters.
  • Cons: Companies must conduct due diligence while selecting a software agency to ensure their IP rights are adequately protected, as a lack of clear agreements may lead to disputes.



  • Pros: In the short term, the EOR route may prove cost-effective, as companies avoid the upfront expenses associated with establishing a separate legal entity.
  • Cons: Over time, the ongoing service fees charged by EORs may accumulate and become higher than the sustained costs of maintaining in-house software development teams or partnering with dedicated agencies.

Software Development Agency:

  • Pros: While software agencies may have higher upfront costs, their long-term cost-effectiveness can be realized through efficient project management, specialized expertise, and optimized development processes.
  • Cons: For smaller projects or short-term engagements, the initial costs of hiring a software agency may appear relatively higher.



  • Pros: Employer of Record services excel in ensuring compliance with local labor laws, tax regulations, and other statutory requirements in India. This reduces the risk of non-compliance penalties for global companies.
  • Cons: Compliance may be limited to employment-related matters, and certain EOR providers may not offer expertise in industry-specific regulations or software development standards.

Software Development Agency:

  • Pros: Reputable software agencies typically adhere to industry best practices, quality standards, and legal requirements. They are equipped to navigate compliance aspects specific to software development.
  • Cons: Some software agencies may lack experience in navigating the complexities of hiring and labor regulations, which may require the hiring company to remain vigilant in ensuring overall compliance.

You can read more about EOR vs Dev Agencies here.

Employer of Record vs. PEO

A Professional Employer Organization, or PEO, functions as a co-employer with your business. When you engage a PEO, they enter into a co-employment relationship, sharing employer responsibilities with you. This is very different from an EOR, which assumes legal employer status for a portion or all of a company's workforce. When you engage an EOR, they take on the responsibility of onboarding (sometimes even hiring) employees, handling payroll processing, managing employment contracts, and ensuring compliance with employment laws and regulations. PEOs limit their roles to assisting the company with HR related tasks. You can read more about the differences between the two in a separate blog.

When to Utilize an Employer of Record (EOR) in India

In India, an EOR arrangement allows international companies to engage local talent, comply with local labor laws, and establish a presence in the country without the need to set up a separate legal entity. Following are some of the specific use cases when an EOR makes most sense for global companies looking to hire workers in India:

  1. For international companies in the early stages of testing the Indian market or undertaking short-term projects here.
  2. When businesses need to accelerate the hiring process in India and initiate operations quickly without having to make an immediate long-term investment.
  3. For companies looking to reduce administrative overheads and not have an in-house HR team in India.
  4. When businesses plan to reduce legal and compliance risks in India.

If you are hiring from India, you can read more about Employees and Contractors in India here.


Ultimately, the choice between EOR, PEO, establishing your own legal entity, or partnering with a software development agency depends on the company's objectives, risk appetite, budget constraints, and long-term vision in India. We hope you are now equipped with the knowledge needed to navigate the Indian hiring landscape confidently and position your international business for success in this dynamic and promising market. 

At Wisemonk, we help global companies streamline their remote hiring processes in India. We understand the complexities of managing talent operations in India, ranging from employee sourcing and onboarding to managing contracts, compliant payroll management, and many more. As a young company, we are built on the individual experience of working with multiple Sequoia and YC-backed startups like Mesh.ai, Shipsy.io, and many others.

If you have any inquiries regarding building your remote team in India, we would be delighted to assist you and provide answers.