Prevent employee misclassification of your foreign independent sales reps

Working with sales representatives is often a fantastic way to scale your production capacity in a short period of time. However, there are some companies that work with sales reps on a fulltime basis. We want to provide a guideline on how to prevent employee misclassification for these individuals.

What’s the deal?

If a US court determines a case of employee misclassification then the company will be faced with liabilities such as back tax withholdings, due social security contributions, overtime hours, interest and penalties. If employee classification is determined outside the US then the company will additionally be liable for paid vacation days, mandatory benefits such as a thirteenth month pay, severance payment, notice pay and fines, which are often a combination of a lump sum + a percentage over total liabilities.

These are severe liabilities but luckily there are a few ways to prevent it.

#1 Hire a local accountant to do all the tax fillings

Your sales rep may be the best in his field but he is often not a great administrator. An employee misclassification case can be triggered because tax authorities discover that there is something wrong with the tax payments. Tax authorities will start an investigation and if they believe this individual is a misclassified employee then they will call in the labor authorities.

More often the sales rep will go to the labor authorities by himself. A deteriorating working relationship with the client, coupled with the sight on a high severance payment, are often enough for the sales rep to make this step.

#2 Check the criteria for employee misclassification

Criteria that determine employee misclassification differ per country. In a country such as Germany it is important that the revenue of the sales rep should come from multiple clients. If a German sales rep receives more than 80% of total revenue from one source then this will likely trigger an employee misclassification case. In countries such as the US it is more important to look whether the sales rep has his own website, business cards and other methods to promote his business.

The chances for employee misclassification are close to zero if the sales rep works for multiple clients and when the working relationship is only for a brief period of time. A sales rep that works indefinitely for one client is in the danger zone. In these cases, you should pay extra attention to the criteria per country.

#3 Don’t work with fulltime sales reps

Sales reps are great to scale up sales in a short period of time. But when you want to retain this talent for an indefinite period then it makes more sense to employ this individual. Acumen International can employ your sales reps on your behalf. We would act as the employer of record, pay the wages, fill out the taxes and make sure everything is compliant with local labor laws.

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