May 23, 2024

Remote Hiring in India: Independent Contractor vs EOR Employee Explained

Discover the key differences between hiring independent contractors and engaging employees through an Employer of Record (EOR) in India. This comprehensive guide explores payment methods,

Remote Hiring in India: Independent Contractor vs EOR Employee Explained

Remote Hiring in India: Independent Contractor vs EOR Employee Explained

In the dynamic landscape of global business, India stands out as a premier destination for sourcing top-tier talent, particularly in the tech industry. With its vast pool of skilled professionals and a robust outsourcing market, companies worldwide are increasingly looking to India to expand their remote teams. However, navigating the complexities of hiring in India requires a nuanced understanding of local labor laws, tax obligations, and employment practices.

One of the critical decisions businesses face is choosing between hiring independent contractors and engaging employees through an Employer of Record (EOR) setup. Each approach comes with its own set of advantages and challenges, impacting everything from compliance and cost to control and confidentiality.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the key differences between independent contractor arrangements and EOR employee setups in India. We will explore how each model affects payment methods, tax compliance, confidentiality risks, employee benefits, attrition rates, and access to the talent pool. By the end of this discussion, you will have a clearer understanding of which strategy aligns best with your business needs and how to effectively manage your remote Indian team.

Join us as we unpack the intricacies of these two hiring models and provide you with the insights needed to make an informed decision for your global workforce strategy.

Contractors vs. Employees (EOR): A Detailed Comparison

Talent Pool in India:

With better perks comes better talent. In India, there's a strong preference for full-time employment over contract work, largely due to the social stigma surrounding contractors. Full-time positions offer more stability, benefits, and job security, making them more attractive to high-quality candidates. Consequently, the talent pool for contractors is smaller and often less skilled compared to those available through Employer of Record (EOR) services. Other key factors influencing candidates' decisions between contracting and full-time employment include

Key Priorities of a Contractor Talent Pool:

Flexibility: Contractors are often drawn by the flexibility and variety that comes with taking on short-term projects. They can work for multiple clients simultaneously and have more control over their schedules .

Higher Earnings: Contractors in India may be attracted by the potential for higher earnings compared to traditional employment, as they can command premium rates for their specialized skills and expertise.

Short-Term Engagements: The contractor talent pool is well-suited for companies that have temporary staffing needs, such as covering for employee absences, handling fluctuating workloads, or working on time-bound projects.

Key Priorities of an EOR Employee Talent Pool:

Job Security: Full-time employment through an EOR attracts talent seeking long-term stability and job security within the company.

Benefits and Perks: EORs in India typically provide comprehensive benefits packages to employees, including health insurance, retirement plans, and other statutory benefits, making these roles attractive for those seeking long-term financial security.

Career Growth Opportunities: Companies are more likely to invest in training, professional development, and career advancement opportunities for their full-time EOR employees, appealing to those seeking long-term growth prospects.

Company Culture Fit: Full-time EOR employees are more invested in the company's culture, values, and mission, as they are a core part of the organization.

Core Business Functions: Companies often hire full-time EOR employees to fulfill core business functions and roles that are essential for the organization's long-term operations.


Contractors in India experience high attrition rates due to short-term engagements, lack of job security, limited career growth opportunities, and a competitive market. The transient nature of contract work leads to instability, frequent job changes, and reduced motivation among highly skilled professionals seeking long-term advancement.

In contrast, employees hired through an Employer of Record (EOR) have lower attrition rates. This is primarily due to greater job security, with benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid leave. EOR employees enjoy better career growth opportunities through training and promotions, fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion. Long-term engagement is common, as employees in stable roles are more committed to their work and the company's success. Additionally, a structured and supportive work environment contributes to better work-life balance, enhancing job satisfaction and retention.

Payment Methods:

Independent Contractors

When a company hires contractors directly in India, payments are typically made via SWIFT or Wire transfer, or Contractor payment platforms (like Wisemonk). The company transfers the agreed-upon amount directly to the contractor's bank account.

Key Points:

  • Direct Bank Transfer: Payments are made through SWIFT or Wire transfer or Online money transfer platforms
  • No Deductions Required: Contractors manage their own taxes and comply with local tax laws.
  • Invoicing: Contractors submit invoices detailing work completed and the amount due.
  • Payment Frequency: Varies based on the agreement; can be project-based, weekly, monthly, or milestone-based.
  • Currency: Payments can be made in INR or other agreed-upon currencies (USD, EUR).

Employees (EOR Partner)

When a company hires remote employees through an Employer of Record (EOR) in India, the EOR handles payroll and ensures compliance with local laws and regulations.

Key Points:

  • Payroll Management: EOR manages salary calculations, tax withholdings, and statutory deductions (PF, ESI).
  • Payments in INR: Salaries are paid in Indian Rupees (INR) to comply with local regulations.
  • Salary Deductions: EOR makes necessary deductions (income tax, PF, ESI, Professional Tax) before paying the net salary.
  • Payslips and Compliance: EOR provides monthly payslips and ensures compliance with local labor laws.
  • Payment Frequency: Employees are typically paid monthly, in line with Indian labor laws.

Tax Management:

Contractors in India are responsible for managing their own taxes (income tax and GST), while the hiring company only needs to deduct TDS and GST at source

(Note: Global companies don't need to deduct TDS and GST at source)

On the other hand, when hiring employees through an EOR, the EOR takes care of all tax compliance matters, including income tax (TDS), social security contributions (EPF and ESI), and professional tax, making it a more convenient and risk-free option for companies.

Note: Many Global EOR companies are payroll aggregators, meaning they pay employees via third-party vendors in India. This makes for slower processing times and headaches when it comes to managing international employees.

Wisemonk is a dedicated Indian EOR provider, specializing exclusively in India. Our deep focus on the local market ensures that our services are top-notch, making us the premier EOR provider in the country.

Taxes for Independent Contractors

Contractors must file income tax and GST returns quarterly and pay any additional taxes due. Contractors are responsible for their own tax compliance.

  • Income Tax (TDS):
    • 1% for individuals/HUF if contract value > Rs. 50 lakhs/year.
    • 2% for others if contract value > Rs. 30,000/year.
    • 10% for professionals if contract value > Rs. 30,000/year.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST):
    • Required if annual turnover > Rs. 20 lakhs (most states) or Rs. 10 lakhs (special category states).

Employees (EOR Partner)

EORs file all necessary tax returns (income tax, EPF, ESI, professional tax) and ensure compliance with Indian tax laws, relieving the hiring company of administrative burdens and legal risks.

  • Social Security Contributions:
    • EPF: 12% of basic salary (employee) + 12% (employer).
    • ESI: 0.75% of gross salary (employee) + 3.25% (employer).
    • Professional Tax: Deducted as per state regulations.

Intellectual Property (IP) Risks:

IP Risks with Independent Contractors

Hiring contractors directly poses higher IP risks due to:

  • Use of Personal Equipment: Contractors often use their own devices, making it difficult to control access to sensitive information.
  • Multiple Clients: Contractors may work with multiple clients, increasing the risk of IP disclosure or reuse across projects.
  • Limited Legal Recourse: Enforcing NDAs and IP clauses can be challenging, especially if the contractor is in a different country.
  • Lack of Oversight: Independent and remote work makes monitoring compliance with IP protection measures difficult.

Mitigation Measures:

  • Implement robust NDAs.
  • Conduct thorough background checks.
  • Establish clear guidelines for handling confidential information.

IP Risks with Employees (EOR Partner)

Hiring through an EOR offers better IP protection:

  • EOR-Managed Equipment: Employees use company-provided devices, allowing better control over access to sensitive information.
  • Exclusive Employment: EOR employees work exclusively for the hiring company, reducing IP disclosure risks.
  • Stronger Legal Protection: Comprehensive employment contracts with robust confidentiality and IP protection clauses. The EOR can take legal action on behalf of the company in case of a breach.

Employee Benefits Administration:

In India, contractors and employees hired through an Employer of Record (EOR) receive different levels of benefits. Contractors manage their own benefits, while EOR employees receive comprehensive statutory benefits managed by the EOR.

Independent Contractors

Contractors are considered self-employed and do not receive statutory employee benefits:

  • No Statutory Benefits: Contractors do not receive Provident Fund (PF), Employee State Insurance (ESI), gratuity, or other social security benefits.
  • Flexibility: Contractors can work for multiple clients and manage their own schedules but lack job security and benefits of full-time employment.

Employees (EOR Partner)

Employees hired through an EOR receive a comprehensive package of statutory benefits:

  • Provident Fund (PF): Both employer and employee contribute 12% of the employee's basic salary.
  • Tax Deducted at Source (TDS): Income tax is deducted as per applicable tax slab rates.
  • Professional Tax (PT): Deducted and remitted to the state government.
  • Employee State Insurance (ESI): Employer contributes 3.25% and employee contributes 0.75% of the gross salary.
  • Gratuity: Managed by the EOR, provided after 5 years of continuous service.
  • Maternity Benefits: 26 weeks of paid maternity leave as per the Maternity Benefit Act.
  • Leave Benefits: Includes earned leave, sick leave, and casual leave.
  • Other Benefits: May include health insurance, accident insurance, and other perks.

The EOR handles all statutory compliance, including calculating and remitting contributions, filing returns, and ensuring adherence to local labor laws. This relieves the hiring company of administrative burdens and legal complexities associated with managing employee benefits in India.

Legal and Compliance Risks:

In India, hiring contractors directly poses significant legal and compliance risks, while employing staff through an Employer of Record (EOR) can mitigate these risks.

Independent Contractors

Hiring contractors directly exposes companies to various risks:

  • Misclassification Risk: Misclassifying employees as contractors can lead to legal and financial penalties, including back taxes and social security contributions.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Companies must comply with the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, which includes obtaining registration certificates and maintaining records.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Risks: Contractors working with multiple clients increase the risk of IP infringement. Enforcing IP rights and NDAs can be challenging, especially with cross-border contractors.
  • Taxation Risks: Proper deduction and remittance of Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) are required. Non-compliance can result in interest, penalties, and legal consequences.

Mitigation Measures:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence.
  • Maintain proper documentation.
  • Ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Employees (EOR Partner)

Hiring through an EOR reduces legal risks and ensures compliance with local labor laws:

  • Reduced Misclassification Risk: EORs ensure proper classification and compliance with Indian labor laws, reducing the risk of misclassification penalties.
  • Compliance with Labor Laws: EORs handle compliance with laws such as the Industrial Disputes Act, Minimum Wages Act, and Payment of Gratuity Act. They ensure employees receive statutory benefits and maintain required records.
  • Payroll and Tax Compliance: EORs manage payroll processing, including TDS, social security contributions (PF and ESI), and Professional Tax (PT), ensuring compliance with tax laws.
  • Employment Contracts and Policies: EORs draft compliant employment contracts and handle employee grievances and disciplinary issues.
  • Intellectual Property Protection: EORs include robust IP and non-disclosure clauses in contracts and can take legal action on behalf of the company in case of breaches.

Duration of Engagement:

The duration of engagement differs significantly between contractors and employees hired through an Employer of Record (EOR) in India. Contractors are typically engaged for short-term or project-based work, while EOR employees are considered permanent and engaged for the long term.

Independent Contractors

Contractors are usually hired for specific projects or tasks with a defined scope and timeline:

  • Project-Based Engagement: Contractors are engaged for specific projects, and their engagement ends once the project is completed.
  • Flexible Duration: Engagements can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on project requirements.
  • No Long-Term Commitment: An Independent Contractor is not permanent employees, and there is no expectation of ongoing work.
  • Renewal of Contracts: Contracts may be renewed based on mutual agreement and project availability.

Employees (EOR Partner)

Employees hired through an EOR are considered permanent and enjoy long-term engagement:

  • Permanent Employment: EOR employees are permanent employees of the EOR, working exclusively for the client company.
  • Indefinite Duration: Employment continues until resignation, termination, or discontinuation of the EOR arrangement.
  • Long-Term Commitment: Indicates a long-term commitment from the company, with an expectation of ongoing employment.
  • Stability and Job Security: EOR employees have greater job security and a steady income.
  • Career Growth Opportunities: Opportunities for career growth and advancement within the company.

Termination Process:

The termination process for contractors in India is governed by contract terms, while the termination of employees hired through an Employer of Record (EOR) is subject to Indian labor laws.

Independent Contractors

The termination process for contractors is primarily based on the contract terms:

  • Contractual Provisions: The contract should outline termination circumstances, notice period, and any applicable damages or penalties.
  • Termination for Cause: Immediate termination is possible for breaches such as harassment, tax evasion, or harm to company assets.
  • Termination for Convenience: Some contracts allow termination without cause, providing flexibility.
  • Payment for Completed Work: The company must pay for work completed up to the termination date.

Click here to learn more about the key components of an independent contractor agreement.

Employees (EOR Partner)

The termination process for EOR employees is subject to Indian labor laws and employment contract terms:

  • Notice Period: Typically, a one-month notice or one month's salary in lieu of notice is required for employees employed for at least one year. The notice period can be mutually agreed upon in the contract.
  • Termination for Cause: Immediate termination is possible for serious misconduct such as insubordination, fraud, or theft.
  • Gratuity Payment: Employees with at least five years of continuous service are eligible for gratuity, except in cases of misconduct. The gratuity is calculated at 15 days' wages for each completed year of service.
  • EOR's Responsibility: The EOR ensures compliance with labor laws, manages the termination process, and provides the required notice or payment.


India offers a rich talent pool, especially in the tech industry, making it an attractive destination for expanding remote teams. The choice between hiring independent contractors and engaging employees through an Employer of Record (EOR) setup is crucial, each with its own benefits and challenges.

Contractors provide flexibility and higher earnings potential, ideal for short-term projects. EOR employees offer long-term stability, comprehensive benefits, and career growth opportunities, suitable for core business functions.

Have you decided whether to hire contractors or use an EOR? To help you compare and choose the best EOR provider in India, check out this comprehensive guide: Best Employer of Record (EOR) Services in India [2024].


1. What is the difference between an independent contractor and an employee in India?

The key difference is that independent contractors are self-employed and work under a contract, while employees work under the direct supervision of an employer. Independent contractors have more flexibility in terms of work hours and methods.

2. How do I hire independent contractor in India?

To hire independent contractors in India, you need to define the scope of work, set clear expectations, and sign a contract agreement. Ensure that the contractor has the necessary skills and experience for the job.

Click here to learn more about the key components of an independent contractor agreement.

3. What are the legal considerations when hiring independent contractors in India?

When hiring independent contractors in India, you need to comply with local labor laws and ensure that the contractor has the necessary licenses and permits to operate. Avoid any actions that could be interpreted as an employer-employee relationship.

4. How do I pay independent contractors in India?

Independent contractors in India are responsible for paying their own taxes. As the hiring party, you need to deduct TDS (Tax Deducted at Source) from the contractor's payments and deposit it with the government. The TDS rate is 10% for professional services.

5. How do I determine if a worker is an independent contractor or an employee under Indian law?

The key factors that determine independent contractor status in India are the degree of control over the work, the contractor's ability to work for multiple clients, and the contractor's investment in their own business. If the worker is economically dependent on the hiring party and has limited control over their work, they may be considered an employee.

6. What are the primary independent contractor advantages India ?

Independent contractors in India offer flexibility, cost savings, specialized skills, quick onboarding, and reduced admin burden, while higher earnings attract top talent.

7. What are the main disadvantages of hiring independent contractors in India?

High attrition rates are common due to short-term engagements, leading to frequent turnover. The lack of job security and statutory benefits results in lower satisfaction among contractors. There is also a higher risk of intellectual property (IP) infringement, and companies must adhere to contract labor laws for regulatory compliance.

8. How do the lack of job security and benefits impact independent contractor retention and loyalty?

The lack of job security and benefits significantly impacts independent contractor retention and loyalty. High turnover rates are common as contractors often leave after projects end. Without benefits, contractors experience insecurity, leading to lower satisfaction.

9. What are the best practices for hiring independent contractors in India?

Best practices for hiring independent contractors in India include clearly defining the scope of work and deliverables in a contract. Ensure the contractor has the necessary skills and experience for the project.

10. What are the key considerations for paying independent contractors in India?

Key considerations are the payment method, typically via direct bank transfer (SWIFT, Wire Transfer, or contractor payment platforms). Payments can be made in INR or an agreed-upon currency. Contractors should submit detailed invoices, and companies must ensure tax compliance by deducting TDS as per the Income Tax Act.

12. What is the Employees Pension Scheme (EPS)?

The Employee Pension Scheme (EPS) is a social security scheme in India aimed at providing pensions to employees working in the organized sector after their retirement.

13. Who is eligible for the Employees' Provident Fund EPF?

The Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) is a social security scheme in India aimed at providing financial security and stability to employees in the organized sector through compulsory savings. All employees earning up to ₹15,000 per month in companies with 20 or more employees are eligible for EPF. Employers and employees contribute a percentage of the employee's salary towards the fund.

14. What are the differences between hiring full-time employees directly and through an Employer of Record (EOR) in India?

Hiring full-time employees directly involves the company managing all aspects of employment, including recruitment, payroll, taxes, and compliance with local labor laws. In contrast, using an Employer of Record (EOR) allows companies to outsource these responsibilities. The EOR handles payroll (EOR will pay employees), taxes, benefits, and compliance, enabling the hiring company to focus on core business activities. This arrangement is particularly beneficial for international companies looking to employ workers in India without establishing a local entity.