What is A Professional Employer Organzation (PEO)?

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is a firm that provides a comprehensive human resources (HR) outsourcing solution to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). By entering into a co-employment relationship with client companies, a PEO takes on various employee management tasks, including payroll, benefits administration, HR, tax administration, and regulatory compliance. Here’s a detailed look at how PEOs function and the benefits they offer:


How PEOs Work

  1. Co-Employment Model: In a co-employment arrangement, the PEO becomes the employer of record for tax purposes and is responsible for handling HR functions and employment-related tasks. However, the client company retains control over day-to-day operations and management of employees.
  2. Services Offered:
    • Payroll Administration: Processing payroll, handling taxes, and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations.
    • Benefits Management: Providing access to health, dental, and vision insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits that might be difficult for small businesses to negotiate on their own.
    • HR Services: Offering support for recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and employee termination. PEOs also handle workers’ compensation claims and unemployment insurance.
    • Regulatory Compliance: Assisting with adherence to employment laws and regulations like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  3. Risk Management: PEOs help manage risks by ensuring legal compliance across various employment laws and regulations, thereby reducing the likelihood of lawsuits or non-compliance penalties.


Benefits of Using a PEO

  • Cost Savings: Economies of scale enable PEOs to provide benefits and services at a lower cost than businesses could obtain on their own.
  • Focus on Core Business: By outsourcing HR tasks, business owners can focus more on operational growth and strategic planning.
  • Improved Compliance: PEOs have expertise in state and federal regulations, helping businesses stay compliant and avoid legal issues.
  • Attract and Retain Talent: Offering competitive benefits packages, usually available through larger companies, can help small businesses attract and retain high-quality employees.
  • Reduced Administrative Burden: Managing payroll, benefits, and compliance can be time-consuming and complex. PEOs alleviate this burden, allowing businesses to streamline their operations.



  • Loss of Control: Some companies might feel a loss of control over certain employee-related aspects due to the shared responsibilities with a PEO.
  • Cost vs. Benefit: While PEOs provide numerous services, the cost needs to be justified. Businesses should evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the expenses based on their specific needs.


Overall, a PEO can be a valuable partner for SMBs, providing necessary HR services that help them operate more efficiently and effectively, which can be particularly beneficial in competitive and highly regulated industries.