What's the best way for a UK company to pay American worker bees?
October 20, 2013 4:47 PM   Subscribe

About a month ago, a British company hired me to work 25+ hours a week for three months, with the possibility to go full-time after that if my coworker and I land a certain number of clients. (We're opening its New York office.) Payment is a clusterfuck.

The issue: the CEO pays us in international wire transfers, which dings him on fees and takes forever on our end. (Rather than paying us in pounds, the transfers come from an HSBC UK dollar bank account -- not sure what the advantages/disadvantages are of this method). Because I want to get my money right, and because the dude's crazy overwhelmed with an expanding company and impending wedding date, I offered to email him about better options this week. Other facts:

1. Did my research: this is a great company with high profile clients and 14 employees in the UK.
2. The income I've received so far is 1099. In the US this would technically be illegal since I'm acting as an employee of the company rather than a consultant. The CEO is not opposed to a W2 payroll service.

So ... do you know if there's a speedy and inexpensive way for an international client to pay freelancers/employees? Thank you!!
posted by jessca84 to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm in Boston, and used to employ two contractors in India. Same set of issues. I can't help you with the tax question, but you if you do some up-front work on the payment front, managing the money transfer process isn't complicated.

In my case, I sat down at the start of the project, figured out the necessary timelines for the international wire transfers (i.e., I had to initiate payment with our Finance group no later than X date in order for the money to appear in their accounts on or before Y date).

Once that was settled, I worked out the fee schedule, and made sure that the amount transferred ended up being their pay plus an amount to cover all the fees that would be taken out along the way.

Lastly, I made quarterly "bump payments," above and beyond their regular pay, to cover anything lost in currency exchange rate flux. I could have built that it, but decided to handle it this way as it was easier to get approved internally with my employer.

All in all, a total pain in the ass to initially setup, but once done, it's easy to maintain. And, you can do this all for him so he know what dates he needs to transfer what amounts.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:24 PM on October 20, 2013

XE.com is very reputable and is very low-cost for transfers. I use it myself to move money to and from the US and Australia.

It's finicky to set up, but simple as going forward.

You (or whoever) pays them on one end and then it's converted and payed out on the other by wire, EFT, ACH, or Draft. Basically, you can pay a person or an organisation or a bank account as needed.

It seems to clear in about two days in my experience and the cost of the transfer is included in the conversion quote.
posted by qwip at 9:08 PM on October 20, 2013

I'm not sure if this is 100% applicable for your case, but I use http://www.currencyfair.com/ when I need to send money home. From UK to US there should be very little fees (hsbc to the currencyfair account costs 0 afaik), only the deposit fee from currency fair to your US account. Something to check out!

Exchange rate wise, it is much better than hsbc transfers.
posted by TrinsicWS at 9:07 AM on October 23, 2013

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