How to pay international contractors in Indonesia


Aug 24, 2023


Rana Bano

Indonesia stands as an excellent choice for global companies seeking to access talent from abroad. Once you've decided to hire independent contractors from this country, ensuring timely and reliable payment becomes crucial.

Beyond just agreeing on payment terms, you must also grasp the various aspects of compensating international contractors in Indonesia. This includes understanding worker classification, streamlining onboarding procedures, and selecting appropriate payment methods—all while fully complying with Indonesia's employment laws and labor laws.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you through the entire process of paying your contracted Indonesian talent, from start to finish. Let's begin!

Step #1: Classify your workers in Indonesia

Indonesian law recognizes two distinct categories of workers: full-time employees and independent contractors or freelancers. 

Now, misclassifying employees or contractors, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can lead to severe consequences in the country. This includes substantial penalties, fines, lawsuits, and back payment of employee benefits. It also puts your intellectual property protection at risk if the worker's classification is challenged.

But there's good news: There are steps you can take to avoid misclassification.

Indonesia differentiates between workers based on several critical factors:

  • Legal coverage: Employees are entitled to the protections offered by Indonesian employment and labor laws, while contractors do not enjoy the same legal safeguards.
  • Job dynamics: Employees work as subordinates to a single company, adhering to set working hours and a designated location. On the contrary, contractors are self-employed and can work for multiple employers.
  • Tax responsibilities: Employers handle tax deductions, social insurance, and other employee benefits, whereas contractors are responsible for paying self-employment taxes.
  • Payment flexibility: Employees typically receive a fixed monthly salary, whereas contractors have the flexibility to set their own payment rates and schedules.

To avoid misclassification risks and protect your IP and invention rights, understanding the essence of being an employee vs. a contractor is key. Here's a chart with indicators to help you clearly distinguish between the two categories of workers:

Payroll Aggregators


High level of worker control.
Contractors enjoy more freedom in how they tackle their work and when they get it done.

More direction from the employer. Employees receive more guidance from their employer, including specific instructions on how to perform tasks and set working hours.

Tools owned. Contractors use their own equipment and tools.

Tools given. Employees typically receive equipment and tools from the company.

Less integrated. Contractors are independent, often working remotely and using their personal resources.

Highly integrated. Employees are more integrated into the employer's organization, many even working on-site.

No entitlement to employee benefits. Contractors are not entitled to company benefits or protections and handle their taxes independently.

Entitled to employee benefits. Employees are entitled to benefits like overtime pay, vacation pay, health insurance, retirement plans, and paid sick leave.

Time-bound engagement. Contractors are usually hired for certain projects or timeframes.

Indefinite engagement. Employees are hired on an indefinite basis.

Risk of loss and more liability. Contractors may shoulder more risk and liability for their work.

No risk of loss and liabilities. Employees are generally protected from work-related liabilities.

Subcontracting allowed. Contractors can delegate work to others or hire subcontractors.

Hands-on approach to work. Employees can't delegate responsibilities without company approval and are expected to do their own work.

Step #2: Determine the best way to pay your contractors in Indonesia

The next step to pay contractors in Indonesia is figuring out how to do it. With global workforces and remote work on the rise, you now have several choices to clear the invoices of your Indonesian contractors. Here are some options you can consider:

  • Bank transfers: You can either open an Indonesian bank account to deposit funds directly into the contractors' accounts or use your own bank to send a global wire transfer to pay them.
  • International money orders: While this old-school method works, it can be slow and come with fees and (not-so-great) exchange rates. Plus, you've got to physically purchase the money order, and your contractors have to do the same for depositing it.
  • Digital wallets or payment platforms: The other option is using digital payment platforms like Wise and PayPal for cross-border money transfers. But, keep in mind that not all platforms might be available in Indonesia. Also, exchange rate fluctuations can mess with your expense calculations.
  • Global payroll services: It isn't necessary to include contractors in regular payroll because they don't get the same withholdings as employees. Instead, they send invoices for their services, and you manage them through accounts payable. But guess what? With Rippling, you can compliantly pay both your Indonesian employees and contractors, no matter where they are, all in one go. 

Step #3: Use global payroll software to process payments for Indonesian contractors 

Evidently, you have many options to pay your contracted workers in Indonesia. But if you're wondering about the fastest and simplest way, there's a simple answer—using global payroll software. 

With Rippling, you can pay employees and contractors, across the world, in a single pay run. Here’s a preview of how Rippling’s global payroll system works:

Step #4: Ensure your Indonesian contractors have the right tax information

As an employer hiring independent contractors in Indonesia, you aren't required to deduct taxes from their paychecks. Instead, the latter is responsible for filing and submitting their income tax returns in their country. But, you may need them to fill out tax forms confirming their contractor status in your country.

Suppose you're a US-based company hiring Indonesian contractors. In this case, you'll have to follow the tax compliance regulations set by the IRS. This involves collecting Form W-8BEN from each contractor working outside the US. Additionally, you might need to complete the 1096 Form, which is used for reporting payments to independent contractors. 

Note that the IRS has also signed a treaty with Indonesia regarding taxes. Check it out here.

Admittedly, navigating tax compliance for international contractors can be complex, and making common errors is costly. When you process payments through Rippling, a global payroll system, our expert team handles the paperwork, calculations, and filing on your behalf. Rest assured, we'll guarantee your tax compliance is in order, allowing you to focus on your core business operations with confidence.

Frequently asked questions about running payroll for contractors in Indonesia

Do you need to withhold taxes when paying contractors in Indonesia?

No, you don't need to worry about withholding taxes from payments to contractors in Indonesia. Independent contractors handle their tax obligations, including reporting and paying their income taxes to the relevant tax authorities.

Does Indonesia's minimum wage apply to independent contractors?

Indonesia has no national minimum wage; instead, wages vary depending on the type of business and its location. Each province's governor sets the monthly wage rate based on recommendations from the Provincial Council on Wages among the country's 33 provinces. However, independent contractors are not entitled to the minimum wage as they operate under a different classification from employees.

Do Indonesian contractors receive employee benefits?

No, independent contractors in Indonesia aren't entitled to employee benefits like severance pay, paid annual leave, and sick leave. Moreover, you must refrain from offering them benefits to prevent any misclassification risks.

Can payments to contractors in Indonesia be made in a foreign currency?

While it's recommended to pay Indonesian contractors in their local currency, which is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), you can pay them in your own currency. Just be sure to clarify the agreed currency in the contract or payment terms to avoid any confusion.

Is it possible to manually pay contractors in Indonesia?

While manual contractor payments are possible, it's important to consider the potential burdens and risks, especially as your business expands and involves multiple contractors in Indonesia and internationally.

Moreover, manual payment processing comes with some risks:

  • Compliance: Running payroll manually means taking on the risk of human errors and omissions. To safeguard your business, choose Rippling, an automated solution that enforces compliance with all relevant local laws, regardless of where your contractors reside.
  • Security: Manual payroll processing poses security risks, especially if you rely on spreadsheets or paper records. Sensitive employee information may be lost, stolen, or misused.

Luckily, there's a safe alternative you can consider: automating your payroll with Rippling

Rippling syncs your business' HR data with payroll, eliminating the need for manual data entry. This means employees and contractors worldwide get paid quickly and in full compliance—in just one pay run. 

How do you turn a contractor into an employee in Indonesia?

If your contractor is doing an excellent job, you can consider bringing them on board as an employee. This will enable you to fully leverage their skills and contributions to your company's success.

Converting a contractor into an employee offers several advantages, one of which is safeguarding your intellectual property rights for all the work they've done during their time with you.

However, the conversion process is not straightforward. You'll need to create an employment contract and provide mandatory benefits like social insurance, paid holidays, and pensions, as required for Indonesian employees. Ensuring compliance with Indonesian labor laws and handling proper payroll processing is crucial.

When the time comes to make the switch, Rippling can lend a hand with the conversion process, allowing you to focus on growing your business while we handle the administrative details.

Effortlessly manage contractors, no matter where they are

With Rippling, you can effortlessly manage contractors—as well as quickly transition contractors to full-time employees—with legally compliant paperwork, benefits administration, payroll, and more. Rippling handles it all, so you stay compliant from onboarding to offboarding.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: August 24, 2023

The Author

Rana Bano

A Kolkata-based B2B and business trends writer, Rana writes on global workforce onboarding and management, with expertise in Japan, Mexico, Portugal, and, of course, India.