Freelancers who live in the United States may soon find their only option for landing freelance assignments may be through those sites who charge them for services. There is an important change forthcoming on oDesk that will affect all US contractors and may also affect UK providers as well. This change is a drastic change in the terms of service nomenclature which changes the word “buyer” to “employer” and other nomenclature changes which are not as frightening. Since oDesk seems to be the standard by which other freelance marketplaces model their businesses (see Elance tries to mimic oDesk) this is worrisome for those who depend on these sites for new gigs.
Some freelancers do not see this as an issue, oDesk has gone out of their way to assure the members that this isn’t problematic. However, some of us feel differently. I continue to be a big proponent of oDesk however, it is highly unlikely that I will be accepting any new contracts via oDesk. Freelancing and employment are two distinct things. Freelancing means you have clients, not an employer.
While oDesk has gone out of their way to ensure those who accept contracts that this does not change their legal standing I have my doubts. I will not work on oDesk until/unless they change this language and I encourage others who either have signed up with oDesk or are considering it to talk to your tax preparer about the language in the contract.