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oDesk Payroll: An Agency or Not?

I just noticed that when a client posts a job and stipulates "No Agency Contractors," being on oDesk Payroll means I no longer have the option to apply. I think oDesk should rethink this policy, because working under oDesk Payroll doesn't really mean we're a part of the same type of agencies on oDesk that have teams and managers. Maybe I'm being too simplistic here, but I feel there's a big difference between oDesk Payroll as an agency and other oDesk Contractor Agencies.

And although working under oDesk Payroll comes with a small fee - it's well worth it; however, contractors who work under it should have the option to apply for jobs that stipulate no agency contractors, since in essence, we aren't really. We can pick and choose our own jobs without having to check with an agency manager.

It can't hurt to bring this up for discussion, anyway. Just my two cents Laughing out loud

Vote Result

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Score: 4.3, Votes: 3
This may be an interesting "angle:"

I just looked at the "Sales Spiel" for oDesk Payroll. It clearly says:

from the Payroll page wrote:
We designed oDesk Payroll so that transitioning from 1099 to W-2 classification costs you and your clients nothing — membership in oDesk Payroll will not affect your ability to compete for work!

oDesk Payroll Information

If the system then technically prevents you from applying for many, some, or even ANY contracts, then the above is false, and something needs to be done.

I Agree

You made a good point there, Petra. It most certainly does prevent me from applying to many jobs - those that stipulate independent contractors only. And I'm finding the majority of posted jobs out there are excluding agency contractors lately - not sure why, exactly - except I know some of the tax laws have changed. I'll have to look into it, but I'm certainly no tax expert.

Thanks!

"Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say." - Brenda Ueland

There needs to be a "workaround"

I guess they have to call it an agency because they are, according to tax / employment law, an agency - I would hazard a guess that to qualify for the benefits you have to be "working for an employer...."

They could, however, just remove the "block" which currently prevents the oDesk Payroll workers from applying for those contracts while leaving the block in place for "normal" agency workers.

As things are you are not just facing a financial loss, you also stand to lose the benefits for which you joined oDesk Payroll in the first place if you can not win enough work (due to the blocks) to reach the required 30 hours per week......

Exactly!

That's exactly what I was thinking! It's like being penalized for being a part of oDesk Payroll. I wonder if I should contact customer support. I'm not sure if anything would get done, because they usually advise to go to the Feedback Forum. Maybe someone from oDesk will see this thread and respond this week. I hope something comes from all this, but thank you, Petra. Appreciate your input! Laughing out loud

"Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say." - Brenda Ueland

just playing devils advocate

If an oDesk Payroll contractor has to be considered an agency contractor in order to get the tax break and benefits provided by the program,

and if we speculate that the tax laws have changed in a way that makes working with an agency ill advised for the client,

then, if oDesk does what you propose and allows a payroll contractor (who technically is an agency contractor) to apply to jobs that stipulate only independent contractors, it would be disingenuous. The client would be held to the condition they were trying to avoid.

I'm not altogether certain that the "only independent contractors" tendency actually has much to do with tax reasons, but that is what is being speculated.

Good points, Robin

I know nothing about US tax / labor laws and the ins and outs of how all that comes into play at oDesk.

This had crossed my mind, too:

Robin wrote:
if oDesk does what you propose and allows a payroll contractor (who technically is an agency contractor) to apply to jobs that stipulate only independent contractors, it would be disingenuous. The client would be held to the condition they were trying to avoid.

That crossed my mind, but then I thought "Well, they are not working for an agency in the sense that makes most clients avoid agencies, so maybe having a third category "Contractors working under oDesk Payroll Scheme" would work."

But there was something on the oDesk Payroll page that I found a bit worrying:

oDesk Payroll page wrote:
Contractors may sign up for the oDesk Payroll program only at the request of their respective clients since a worker's tax classification can have legal and compliance implications for the hiring company.

I have no idea what that means in practical terms. As I said, I know diddly squat about US tax / labor laws but that sort of thing alone could be part of the answer to the question why more and clients are reluctant to work with agency contractors.

It may also mean there isn't anything much oDesk can do about it?

Hi Barbara, Going over oDesk

Hi Barbara,

Going over oDesk Payroll program, I also think your best course of action is to get assistant with oDesk Help Center. Assuming that they are trained and familiarized with the program, they could provide specifics about the program. But if they would simply provide you with links or quotes from the program page, I feel it will only raise more questions than answers.

As I have browse thru the Program, this much I have gathered,

1. Applicable only for hourly rates.
2. Has a minimum limit for the hourly rate you can charge. Should be equal or above the hourly minimum rate of the state where a contractor is located.
3. Advantageous to those contractors who log an average total accumulated time of 40 to 60 hours a week.
4. With the program you can avail of benefits of a regular employee gets from a regular employer such health care, insurance, etc.
5. oDesk will prepare, compute and remit to I.R.S you income tax due, withheld from your pay. So less worry during tax season.
6. Advantageous to Clients who hires Contractors on long term basis averaging 40 hrs a week. As I understand I.R.S classification (link is provided) between an employee and contractor. If a client hire a contractor for long term, 40 hrs a week, as per I.R.S classification he is no longer a contractor but an employee of the client. And because of this classification, Client may get into trouble with the I.R.S for not withholding tax due and other related matters concerning taxes between the contractor and Client.

Not really a tax break per se but more of a convenience and benefits for both the Client and Contractor on Tax Issues.

That is my basic understanding of the program, but as I said, it seems to raise more questions than answers reading thru the pages of the program. More direct explanation by oDesk on the issues are need for those who would want to avail of the program.

Hope this would help.

Thank you, Reynaldo

Good information, thank you! I'm already signed up for the 401K - another reason why I need to work under oDesk Payroll - I need to contribute to it regularly.

I was able to apply to a job today that stipulated independent contractors only - weird. There was one yesterday that I was unable to - maybe I had applied for it already.

And when I do apply to these jobs, I always put at the top that I understand they don't want agency contractors, but I hope they will make an exception for contractors working under oDesk Payroll...not sure if that'll make any difference, though!

Appreciate the info though, thanks. Laughing out loud

"Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say." - Brenda Ueland

Maybe oDesk read your post

Maybe oDesk read your post and corrected that concern. Smile If Clients are already aware oDesk Payroll is an oDesk Program most probably will disregard the Agency affiliation. But for those client who are unaware, may or might not take a second look on what oDesk Payroll stand for as compared to the regular agencies around oDesk.

Good luck though on your job search.

Good point

Thanks, that's a really good point, Reynaldo. And thanks for the good luck wishes, too. Work is so sporadic; some weeks, I have so much of it, I need to work right through the weekend; while others are so slow, I'm up all night worrying about finances.

It seems like we are in a bit of a slump now that the holidays are over, but maybe it's just in my type of work. I'm a writer, content consultant and editor.

And I have to say, setting up daily email job alerts is my best tool right now.

Take care,

Barb

"Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say." - Brenda Ueland

Your welcome, always glad to

Your welcome, always glad to be of help.

I think it does.

Barbara Wright wrote:
when I do apply to these jobs, I always put at the top that I understand they don't want agency contractors, but I hope they will make an exception for contractors working under oDesk Payroll...not sure if that'll make any difference, though!

Hi Barbara Smile

I think it does make a difference.

Off topic: Did you last work on January the 13th? I am asking because the last worked day on my profile seems to be stuck on that day, I work every day.

@ Natasha - off topic

I just put in a ticket today as my last worked day is also stuck on 13 January and have worked every day since bar one. Support said they would get back to me!!

Week of Jan. 13

That seems to be the last week I worked steadily, yes. What's going on? Sad

"Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say." - Brenda Ueland

@jeandrewitt - off topic

Thanks. Mine just got updated, Jan 20 Smile

deleted. Sorry

Just because I don't understand something does not mean I should necessarily share my conspiracy theories..... Laughing out loud Sorry for the interruption Wink

Oh..

I wonder what happened, she posted only 2 hours and now Oups

Maybe

Natasha R. wrote:
I wonder what happened, she posted only 2 hours and now :-X

Maybe it was a forum username issue. I noticed that originally, in the early days of the forum, people posted with what appeared to be user-names / forum names which did not look like normal contractor names (first name and either surname or Initial) and that her forum name does not look like it would be a contractor account name that would be acceptable as an oDesk contractor name. My first theory was that it was an old duplicate account from "someone or the other" which was resurrected for posting purposes and found out via the IP (would not be the first time, would it?) but after seeing the rather unusual format of the name I decided that that was maybe somewhat far fetched and deleted my thought.