PEO stands for Professional Employment Organization. It's a type of service provided by an external entity, which is very often confused with EOR or even used interchangeably. Admittedly, the two are similar in some aspects, but there is no doubt that there are also significant differences between them. PEO is not as widely known as EOR. It is most popular in the United States, and it is only there that its formal definition can be found. The introduction of the PEO service was a response to the legal differences that exist from state to state regarding the employment of personnel. For companies that want to expand their operations throughout the United States, it is extremely cumbersome and difficult to meet all the requirements on their own and not get lost along the way. Hardly any company has enough budget to be able to hire local experts in each state to watch over regulatory compliance. For this reason, a very high percentage of businesses choose to use the PEO service. The key function of an EOR is to formally employ the employees of the client company, so that the client does not have to create separate business entities. In the case of a PEO, it looks a little different, because the PEO service provider does not employ the employees, but only assumes obligations arising from their employment similar to those that an EOR also performs, for example managing payroll or just controlling business operations for compliance with local laws. This is by far the most important difference that exists between the two services - the roles performed by these service providers are very similar, however the Employer of Record simultaneously becomes the official employer of the employees while the PEO service provider requires the client company to hire selected candidates and only then assumes its employment responsibilities. You may notice that some PEO service providers call themselves "international PEOs." However, this should not fool anyone, because even then the offer of this type of company is aimed only at potential clients who are nevertheless ready to set up their own business units in certain jurisdictions or already have them. A PEO only provides assistance in fulfilling the duties of an employer, not hiring employees. Although the scope of the PEO service is much narrower than the EOR, both are very popular and frequently used by companies. Businesses with multiple entities, subsidiaries and branches that are only concerned with delegating some of the necessary HR, payroll administration and benefits tasks are more likely to use the PEO service. This is an option for more developed companies that already have a stable position in the market.
Small businesses just beginning their international expansion should turn their attention to EOR. It is also the best solution for those companies that do not plan to set up more business units in numerous countries in the near future, but nevertheless wish to have employees from abroad. How does the use of PEO and EOR services look from a formal point of view? Well, the PEO service provider performs activities for the client company in the context of HR, becoming a collaborator. However, it has either zero or very limited legal liability. The situation with an Employer of Record is quite different, as all the responsibility related to hiring employees falls on the Employer of Record. The client company is relieved of all responsibility for personnel matters and in case of any complications the EOR service provider will be held accountable. This issue also translates into the way entities operate, as the Employer of Record is generally more accurate and pays more attention to compliance than
a PEO. This is due to the fact that it is aware of the liability it bears and is keen to ensure that all business operations are carried out in accordance with local regulations. The experience of companies that have had the opportunity to use both EOR and PEO services indicates that EOR shows much greater commitment in many fields. The Employer of Record places a much higher priority on regularly updating its legal, business and tax knowledge. Priority is given to learning about any changes that are made. This gives customers peace of mind about aligning the company's operations with the latest regulations. Another no less important thing to consider when comparing EOR and PEO offerings is insurance policies. Taking a joint operation with a PEO provider involves paying for both the company's policy and the PEO's policy. This obviously involves increased costs. The matter is completely different if one chooses to work with an Employer of Record, because then it is the Employer of Record who provides the policies to both itself and the employees who are hired through it. Many PEOs also place requirements on the number of employees they can take under their coverage. A PEO service provider will rarely take on a client company unless it manages at least 5 employees. This is quite unprofitable for it therefore it is set for larger numbers of employees. Such limits are generally not present in the case of Employer of Record. Companies can undertake cooperation with an EOR service provider regardless of whether they plan to hire one or ten employees in this manner.