Oyster Review – The Good and Bad for 2023
Hiring top talent is hard enough on its own. Doing it across borders can seem downright impossible. Navigating complex legal requirements, tax regulations, and labor laws in one country is a full-time job in itself, but Oyster’s employment of record services offer you access to a team of international HR experts that will always be in your corner.
In this comprehensive review, we’ll talk about what Oyster HR is, what it does well, where it falls short of our expectations, and the different plans they offer so you can confidently decide if it’s right for your business.
What Is Oyster HR?
Oyster is a global employer of record (EOR) and international payroll service that lets you hire and retain international workers for your team without the hassle of setting up separate entities abroad. This brand uses a “hybrid EOR” approach, formally employing your team members while you maintain control over what they do.
Whether you’re a scrappy five-person shop or an enterprise with big ambitions, Oyster lets you tap into talent pools outside your home base of operations. In fact, they can help you hire contractors or full-time employees in over 100 different countries.
The Oyster team also takes care of payroll, benefits administration, compliance, contracts, and everything in between, so you have complete HR coverage no matter where your talent lives.
Say you’re a fast-growing startup in San Francisco and you find a rock star engineer in Berlin you’d love to bring on board. Rather than establishing a subsidiary in Germany, you can hire them through the Oyster platform. Oyster becomes their legal employer in Germany while they work directly for you.
It’s the best of both worlds: local compliance with the global reach and flexibility of a distributed team.
Looking for more traditional HR software instead? Check out our favorite all-in-one HR solutions here.
Oyster HR: The Good and the Bad
As an EOR, Oyster brings a lot of value to businesses of all sizes looking to hire around the world. From compliance and benefits administration to PTO management and time tracking, it’s a powerhouse HR solution that packs a punch. However, it’s not perfect for everyone—no software is one-size-fits-all, after all.
To kick off our review, we’ll start with the good stuff.
What Oyster Is Good At
Scalable hiring and onboarding: Oyster provides the step-by-step guidance you need to employ people globally with full confidence in your compliance. Being the process of hiring an engineer or a project manager in another country and Oyster will walk you through customizing an employment package, including fair pay and benefits based on where the new hire lives. The platform ensures you have any necessary visas or documents in place to legally bring them aboard.
With Oyster, you can see exactly where you are in the hiring workflow at any time. The new hire will also have visibility into next steps, keeping everyone on the same page in this asynchronous work environment. Oyster will even help you create personalized agreements and contracts, stored in one easily accessible place for review and e-signatures.
Global payroll: Oyster’s payroll services offer a streamlined solution to hire and pay workers around the world without the hassle. Pay contractors in 180 countries and full-time employees in 130 countries. Oyster pays your team in their local currencies and handles all payroll taxes and statutory requirements on your behalf. No more deciphering international payroll and tax codes.
Whether you have monthly or on-demand contractors, full-time employees, or a mix, Oyster makes paying your team easier than ever. They take care of everything for you—disbursing pay, withholding taxes, and ensuring your company stays fully compliant each step of the way. With a centralized system and multicurrency support, your international payroll is now completely automated.
Expense, PTO, and time management: Oyster provides an integrated solution to help you build a sustainable, remote work-focused culture. Employees and contractors worldwide can request time off, submit their expenses in their local currency, and log hours directly in the Oyster platform. Plus, Oyster automatically reimburses expenses and integrates time off into payroll runs.
It’s nice to have all of these features available in a single source of truth. Not only does it make things easier for your employees, but it also helps admins and HR teams stay organized on the backend.
Global equity guidance: Equity compensation is a proven way to align incentives and motivate your distributed workforce. Oyster makes it easy to optimize your global equity strategy through its comprehensive overviews of how compatible certain countries are for the types of equity you want to offer, like stock options or restricted stock units.
You’ll get digestible insights into risks, costs, taxes, and compliance factors so you can allocate equity in a way that maximizes value for both your business and employees. For example, you may learn that certain countries are more favorable for cash-based incentive plans versus direct equity due to regulatory requirements. In other locations, taxes on equity vesting may be prohibitively high, signaling you should consider a different reward approach.
Benefits administration: Ensuring each employee has healthcare, time off, and other benefits appropriate to their home location is key to keeping a global team happy, healthy, and productive. That’s why Oyster’s global and localized benefits packages are game-changing. You can select tailored plans ranging from basic coverage to highly competitive.
Each pre-made package includes health insurance, retirement plans, paid leave, and more, customized to the standards of that nation. Oyster also has a free comparison tool to help you understand what different levels of coverage mean in different countries.
Whichever you choose, Oyster weaves benefits administration right into the hiring process. You pick the package and Oyster enrolls them so you avoid that hassle. You can switch or combine plans as your distributed company grows.
User-friendly navigation: Oyster’s interface is clean, minimal, and streamlined with clearly labeled navigation and help articles on every screen, ensuring you’ll never feel confused or stuck. Oyster’s straightforward yet polished interface makes managing a distributed workforce simple and efficient. The clean, minimal aesthetic and streamlined workflows reduce headaches so you can focus on what really matters: growing your business.
For you, this means seamless onboarding of international employees. Guide new hires through digital paperwork, set up direct deposit, view pay stubs and invoices, approve time off requests, and monitor hours worked, all with a few clicks. For your team, this means an easy-to-grasp system to log hours, request time off, update payment info, and access their documents.
Hands-on support: Oyster’s customer support is truly world-class. You’ll have direct access to a team of multilingual experts ready to help you and your dispersed workforce. Through Oyster’s portal, you can connect with support agents to ask questions about policies, request changes to employee benefits or pay, report issues, or get guidance on complex global hiring processes.
Unlike other platforms where you’re sent into an automated support labyrinth, Oyster’s support team provides personalized, empathetic assistance. They understand the challenges of building a global team and offer detailed, tailored guidance to resolve your specific needs. Your questions are answered by real people with specialized knowledge of employment laws and norms in the countries where you hire.
They also work with you to anticipate issues before they arise and provide friendly guidance to help streamline global hiring. You’ll feel empowered to build the perfect international team, backed by a company focused on your success.
Discounts for nonprofits and teams of five or more: Oyster provides special discounts for nonprofits. It helps empower these organizations to hire wherever talent and experience align with their cause, unhindered by geographic limitations or budget constraints.
As a registered nonprofit or B Corporation, you’ll receive Oyster’s impact-driven discount: your first international hire is free for one year and you’ll get 30% off for up to 10 employees. To qualify, you have to provide your 501(c)(3) certification or other documentation proving your nonprofit status. The discount applies for hires in Oyster’s most popular destinations, enabling you to attract diverse, hard-to-find skill sets from across the world.
Oyster also offers discounted pricing when you purchase five or more seats. The more seats you buy, the steeper the discount. You’ll negotiate your price per seat directly with Oyster to land on a deal that fits your budget. While the full annual cost is paid upfront, the long-term savings are significant. And unlike the standard tiers, your bulk seats come with a key benefit: the freedom to swap in new team members without added fees.
Free tools: Oyster provides the tools and resources to make the best international hiring decisions for your business—and it’s completely free to start. Sign up for Oyster and learn everything about hiring and paying employees in different countries before committing to anything. For example, you might use their free salary converter to determine how much to offer a marketing manager in Belgium or a developer in Mexico.
Oyster provides free guides—written in easy to understand language—on the requirements, taxes, and costs of roles in various locations so you can see if those hires make sense for your budget before moving forward. Using Oyster’s free resources, you can make data-driven decisions to build a remote team and expand your company internationally. Then, when you’re ready, Oyster’s specialized recruiters and simplified hiring process make it possible to find and employ the best global talent. The best part? You only have to pay once you’re ready to hire.
Hiring refugees: For refugees and displaced people around the world, finding work that matches their skills can be incredibly difficult due to limited opportunities and bureaucratic barriers. Through Oyster’s refugee hiring program, you’ll gain access to a pool of vetted, talented candidates from over 35 countries at little or no extra cost.
Oyster has partnered with advocacy organizations focused on matching refugees with meaningful work. Once you specify the roles you need to fill, Oyster will help you find candidates with the right skills. For up to 10 hires from countries where Oyster operates, they will waive all of their fees. For candidates from other locations, you only pay minor costs to local partners.
Potential Oyster Drawbacks
Lackluster analytics and reports: While Oyster makes generating basic reports like payroll, invoices, and expenses a breeze, their reporting capabilities stop there. You won’t find the insightful charts, customizable filters, and slice-and-dice data exploration that other HR tools offer to help you spot hiring trends, benchmark team productivity, or analyze retention rates. Without the ability to view reports directly in the Oyster platform or tailor them to your needs, you’re left extracting and interpreting the raw data on your own.
For businesses focused on optimizing cost, improving time-to-fill, and building a global talent pipeline, Oyster’s lack of advanced reporting could prove frustrating. While workarounds exist—you can always export report data to analyze in Excel or a data visualization tool—they require extra hassle.
Partners and vendors: Oyster partners with third-party vendors to provide payroll and HR services in some countries where they don’t have an established presence. While this allows Oyster to offer support for more locations, it also means your experience with them can be inconsistent. You may face higher costs, less transparency into the process, and longer wait times when working with their partners.
You’ll want to go in with realistic expectations. In some countries, Oyster’s partners may offer a seamless experience indistinguishable from working directly with Oyster. In others, the extra layers of communication and hand-offs between companies could lead to frustration.
No mobile app: Oyster currently doesn’t offer mobile apps for managers, employees, or admins. While you can access Oyster through your phone’s web browser, a dedicated mobile app would provide a far superior on-the-go experience.
As a distributed business, mobility and flexibility are key. You want to be able to approve time-off requests, view paystubs, submit expenses, and handle other tasks from anywhere. Oyster’s mobile site works in a pinch but lacks the convenience and functionality of a native mobile app. Notifications for payday, reminders, or approvals would be much more useful coming from an app. As more interactions and workflows move to mobile, Oyster falls behind competitors that already offer high-quality mobile experiences for managers, employees, and admins alike.
Slow support turnaround: Oyster takes a different approach to customer support than many of its competitors. Rather than promise instant chat response times or 24/7 phone support, they focus on quality over speed. Their support staff provides helpful, reliable assistance for any questions or issues you submit via their online ticketing portal—it just may take longer than you’d like to get resolved.
For some, waiting three days for support is frustrating. However, Oyster’s slower, ticket-based support model comes with certain advantages. Their agents have ample time to research questions thoroughly and provide thoughtful, well-considered answers and solutions. The back-and-forth exchanges that come with phone or live chat are eliminated, allowing Oyster’s staff to be more productive and manage higher ticket volumes.
Their policy ensures that when you do receive support, your question or problem is addressed comprehensively by a specialist with the time to properly address it. So, their support may be slower but is designed to resolve most questions and problems definitively with the first response. And there’s a different type of value in that.
Oyster HR Plans and Pricing
As far as pricing and plans go, Oyster’s are pretty straightforward and the right one for you simply depends on the type and number of employees you want to hire. All plans are GDPR and SOC2 Type II compliant so you don’t have to worry about adhering to regulations, no matter where you’re hiring.
- Contractors start at $29 per contractor per month
- Employees start at $499 per employee per month
- The Scale Plan offers custom discount prices for bulk hiring
Benefits are an added cost that depends on the employee’s country, level of benefits, and other factors. You can offer benefits to any employee, whether you opt to pay for individual employees or take advantage of bulk pricing with the scale plan.
You’ll also have to pay a security deposit for each employee equal to the total costs of employing that person for one month, including the Oyster monthly fee, employee compensation, and administrative costs.
Your deposit is fully refundable and paid back to you at the end of your team member’s contract. While it may seem frustrating or unnecessary, this is a common practice for EOR providers and not specific to using Oyster.
Now that we’ve covered pricing as a whole, let’s dive deeper into what comes with each plan.
Oyster’s rates for contractors start at $29 per contractor per month, paid monthly. It simplifies global contractor onboarding and payments with an all-in-one solution for companies leaning on worldwide talent.
With it, you can hire contractors in over 180 countries and pay them in 120 different currencies. Rather than wading through cumbersome wire transfers, Oyster automates cross-border payments so you can pay contractors accurately and on time, every time. On top of that, they’ll handle the hassle of currency conversion and expense management for you.
Create a contract for a new freelancer designer, engineer, or other role in minutes using one of Oyster’s templates and its automated document creation process. The contractor can then electronically sign documents right away. Once the work is done, they can submit an invoice with hours logged and Oyster will deposit the payment directly into their account, ensuring they are paid properly according to local tax laws.
Oyster’s plan for full-time employees gives you localized knowledge and legal coverage in over 130 countries, enabling you to make job offers fast and onboard new full time team members with ease. Rather than interpreting foreign employment laws yourself, Oyster’s experts help draft compliant contracts—including IP protection and non-disclosure agreements—and guide employees through mandatory onboarding procedures.
They then coordinate payroll in local currencies while facilitating expenses, paid time off, allowances, and bonuses. And they closely monitor legal regulations to keep your company compliant as you scale.
Oyster’s technology and team of in-country specialists give you the freedom to discover and recruit borderless full-time talent as fast as your business demands. You can start hiring international full-timers for $499 per employee per month when paying annually or $599 per employee on month-to-month billing.
Oyster’s Scale plan exists for accelerated team expansion—it provides customized pricing for hiring five or more employees so you can go on a hiring spree without worrying about budget overages.
It includes all the same features of the Employee plan. But you get a discount, more flexibility, and personalized support that’s a step above the rest.
The more seats you buy in advance, the more you save. Plus, an annual commitment means locking in savings for the year ahead and avoiding unforeseen price hikes. Prepaid seats also give you the flexibility to swap in new team members as needed, so you’re covered even if an employee doesn’t work out.
Oyster is one of our favorite international payroll providers, beating out many other competitors in terms of its capability in hiring, onboarding, paying, and supporting a widely dispersed team of global workers. While there are a few drawbacks to the service, the pros certainly outweigh the cons.
If you’re looking to hire contractors or employees around the world, Oyster is a solid choice.