How to Find and Pay Contractors in Argentina

As a proficient English-speaking nation with the fourth-largest population in South America, Argentina is an optimal foreign country for a US company to build out a global team of independent contractors. So how do you find remote contractors, and how do you pay them?

Caitlin MacDougall
Caitlin MacDougall
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Cities in Argentina are excellent places for foreign employers and foreign companies to hire remote employees and contractors, with a thriving startup culture, as well as lively ex-pat communities. Remote engineers and other tech workers abound in places like the capital city of Buenos Aires, where the residents make up 32% of the country's entire population. It's easy to see why many US companies, particularly those in tech, are attracted to such a large pool of talent. The government in Buenos Aires even offers benefits to entrepreneurs to assist with building their startups and businesses. Programs such as IncuBAte can provide support for these businesses and contribute greatly to the city’s economy.

In addition to investments in startups, there is an array of co-working spaces in Buenos Aires. WeWork, La Maquinita, Manawa, and AreaTres are a few popular destinations for working and for finding community. These spaces provide fast internet speeds and other incentives that attract remote workers.

Remote workers that prefer other alternatives to co-working spaces have many options. The WiFi is strong in Buenos Aires and most major cities, and there’s no significant risk of pesky Zoom or Skype glitches (although downloads can be slow). Cafes often provide internet access as well, and there is WiFi set up in most major parks and public spaces.

And let’s just say that if ever you need to send a company representative over to a place like Buenos Aires, you'd be greeted with enthusiasm: between the highly developed tech industry, vibrant nightlife, and fútball fervor, non-residents visiting the city would not have much to complain about. And don’t forget Argentine tango, which originated from not just Montevideo, Uruguay, but also Buenos Aires. The professional atmosphere is generally laid-back and friendly, with most contract workers and employees working between the hours of 11AM to 6PM. Talk about work-life balance!

While the culture may be ideal, there are some legal requirements, tax obligations, as well as tricky exchange rates that can make hiring foreign contractors in Argentina somewhat challenging and time consuming. Currently, the World Bank ranks Argentina 126th on the ease of doing business index.

The compliance requirements and responsibilities involved in taking your business overseas should not deter you from participating in an eager job market, however. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are even more open to remote and contract work, especially because contract work provides a better opportunity for a work-life balance: it’s flexible and autonomous, and many workers in Latin America prefer contract work because of its low income tax rates.

Read below for guidelines on how to build a global team of remote contractors in Argentina.

Hiring employees versus independent contractors in Argentina

An important question to consider when hiring abroad is how you wish to classify your remote workers.

The type of worker that companies hire falls into the following categories:

  • In an employment relationship, the employer manages the schedule and instructs the employee on their duties. Employees are given contracts and are entitled to a salary with employee benefits such as health care and vacation leave, and the business that employs them is responsible for handling their tax withholding, social security, and severance pay. Employment contracts for full-time employees in Argentina have to adhere to the country’s labor laws, and may be subject to CBAs (Collective Bargaining Agreements).
  • An independent contractor works independently and receives compensation, but generally does not receive benefits such as health care or paid leave. They operate as their own entity, and usually use their own equipment to provide a service and are not entitled to things like severance payment if an employer ends their employment relationship with them. Additionally, independent contractors are subject to paying all income taxes or social security withholding.

Recruiting independent contractors in lieu of hiring employees is an ideal option for a company that is uncertain about how much work they can offer or how long a project will take. It's also a cost-effective option for businesses, as they are not responsible to tax agencies for taxes that their independent contractor may owe.

If you’re looking to hire an independent contractor, make sure you distinguish that relationship from an employee relationship when you make a job offer. Argentinian law doesn’t require a formal written contract for independent contractors, but the employer should make an informal offer in a call or an email. You may want to write up a formal offer to a contractor if there are any parts of the job that require more clarification.

Most countries have labor laws that distinguish workers who are employees versus independent contractors, and Argentina is no exception. Without help from an outside company that knows the ins and outs of these laws, a business risks incurring sanctions and additional fines. Other risks include double severance if you misclassify a contractor.

Image of cars and buildings on a busy street in Buenos Aires.
As more people work remotely, hiring employees and contractors in countries like Argentina is widening the talent pool for US companies.

Finding talented remote contractors in Argentina

How do you find exceptional global talent in a country like Argentina? As previously mentioned, the pandemic changed the global employment landscape, and there has been a surge in remote work and more people making career changes in order to be able to work from home. XPat Jobs, Indeed Argentina, Monster, CareerJet, Craigslist, and Glassdoor are popular hiring search engines for finding both contractors and employees in Argentina.

To hire the best talent, here are some tips for advertising a job opening:

Role description

Use detailed role descriptions as well as important information about your company in the listing. The potential foreign contractor will show more interest if they have information about their pay and the type of service you need.

Translation

To make your job listing more accessible to bilingual or Spanish speakers, make sure you use a Spanish translator to translate the ad into Spanish. You can expect to receive some applications in Spanish unless you specify that you’re looking solely for English speakers.

Sorting through applications

You can sort through job applications manually, or you can use hiring software to sort through them. For help with translation, there are Argentine staffing agencies that can help your team sift through applications written in Spanish in order to determine which applicants require further consideration.

Interviews

While conducting in-person interviews was often considered a best practice pre-pandemic, you can certainly get away with a virtual interview these days, and if you’re hiring from overseas, that’s obviously your most convenient option for hiring independent contractors. Again, unless you’re strictly hiring English speakers, try to learn a few Spanish phrases before the interview. It will go a long way to make the candidate feel welcome and valued.

Don't forget time zones!

Maybe most important to a virtual interview, aside from being able to literally speak the same language, is considering time zone differences. Argentina has its own time zone known as Argentina Time, which is two hours ahead of East Coast Standard Time. If an interview is scheduled for 9AM EST, the interview in Argentina will be at 11AM, or two hours ahead.

For Pacific Standard Time, you’re looking at a four-hour time difference. Mornings stateside are generally the best times to schedule a conference or interview in Argentina, as you’re more likely to reach your Argentinian team during the normal work hours in Argentina.

Image of a red-and-white mailbox with the word "Post" on it.
What are the best options for sending payments to contractors in Argentina?

Paying international contractors in Argentina

Once you’ve found a contractor to hire, what are the best options to send payments to them? Here are a few options to consider:

Bank transfers using SWIFT 🏛

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) is a network used by financial institutions around the world, and many companies find it useful to facilitate international payments.

The service is a safe and secure way to ensure that the income for an independent contractor makes it into the contractors' bank accounts. One of the cons of SWIFT is that it can be pricey. As SWIFT payments are typically routed through multiple banks before they reach the contractor’s bank, each bank can deduct a fee from the funds being transferred. This can reduce a contractor’s payment by $20 to $40 USD, and sometimes even more. The fees aren’t consistent, either, which makes it hard for employers to plan ahead: even if the same banks are used as previously, the cost may be different each time.

Money transfer companies 💳

Money transfer companies provide much better markups on exchange rates than banks do. Their services are online, too, so there’s no need to scout for a physical location. Popular online transfer companies include Remitly, Xoom (owned by PayPal), and Wise (formerly Transferwise).

The downside? Sometimes these transfer services will require that payees use one of their company-issued debit cards, which charges a fee to the customer every time it is used. And even though a transfer company's markups are better than those of banks, these companies charge percent-based fees or add markup fees for exchange rates. Unfortunately, the Argentinian peso (ARS) can fluctuate dramatically too, making rates unpredictable. There are huge differences between the government-sanctioned exchange rates and the market rates as well.

Traditional money transfer services 🏦

Companies like MoneyGram and Western Union have both online services and brick-and-mortar locations in the US and in Argentina, making them easy to find. They can also provide better markups on currency rates than banks do. But like any money transfer service, they still charge percent-based fees or add markup fees for currency exchange.

Cryptocurrencies 🤑

The use of cryptocurrencies is growing quickly around the world. This type of payment isn’t prohibited in Argentina, however cryptocurrency isn't considered legal tender because it isn’t issued by the government monetary authority.

You may be able to avoid having to work with the USD-to-ARS headache with Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies, but not everyone is set up for sending or receiving them. If a foreign contractor wants to be paid using cryptocurrency and they need to convert the payment into their local currency, the employer will still need to deal with exchange rates and possible fees.

Furthermore, the Argentinian National Securities Commission’s Financial Information Unit has regulations with respect to anti-money laundering laws and the Tax Reform Law, which stipulate that profits acquired with cryptocurrency are still subject to taxation, the same as any income.


Compliance and the benefits of outsourcing payments and payroll

Compliance should be a priority for a business hiring internationally, and it’s important that a company offset the risk of accidentally overlooking labor laws, local legislation, and/or tax obligations. A service that specializes in compliance, among other skills, is critical to staying organized.

How Pilot can help

Pilot can help you manage everything from figuring out whether to classify international team members as employees or contractors to sending payments to your global team. It can be hard and time consuming for a foreign employer to navigate local laws, employment contracts, compensation, paid leave, and other benefits in another country. What days are considered public holidays or paid holidays? What's the minimum wage and what are considered working hours? How long should leave policies, like maternity leave and sick leave, be? How do you calculate payroll taxes or overtime hours? What's the probationary period for new employees, and what's the notice period? Pilot's team of experts can help answer these questions and more. Pilot’s own team is fully distributed around the world, and we understand the complexities of hiring and running payroll in multiple countries.

Why Pilot?

Pilot enables US-based businesses to easily hire employees and contractors around the world. Our platform enables businesses of all sizes--from small businesses to large--to pay contractors in 240+ countries and to use local currency payments and local bank transfers in over 70 countries. Pilot does not mark up exchange rates, and we don't require contractors to use an e-wallet or debit card. Instead, funds go straight to contractors' bank accounts, just as if they were US employees. We don't charge companies to send payments, and we don't charge contractors for receiving them.

Our clients love our cost effective service that saves them time and money. Contractors love Pilot, too, because our optimal exchange rates mean that they get paid more and have more money saved.

Want to hire foreign employees instead of contractors? Pilot can act as your employer of record and handle payroll, benefits, and compliance for your international employees. Let us help you stay compliant no matter where your employment relationships may reside. We make sure that your employment contract for any new employee is country-specific, and employment contracts are double-reviewed by both US and local lawyers, so that employees receive pay and benefits that are compliant with the laws of their home country.


To learn more about Pilot, request a demo with one of our experts.


⚖️ Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.


Cover photo by Felipe Barchi Pim on Pixabay

Street photo by Herbert Brant on Pixabay

Mailbox photo by 이정임 lee on Pixabay

Caitlin MacDougall
Caitlin MacDougall
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