Sensible changes by oDesk

Back in August of 2011, I wrote a highly critical post about oDesk when they changed their “terminology” to refer to those who were posting jobs on the site seeking freelancers.  Originally, the accepted term was “buyers” and supposedly after “much research” they changed the terminology to “employers”.  My post was not specifically aimed at oDesk but in general tried to spell out the “proper freelancing terminology” that I suspect most freelancers adhere to.  Shortly after this “change” I stopped using oDesk because I felt that this was casting freelancers in the wrong light, after all, we are not employees therefore we cannot have an employer.

A few months ago, I was rather forced to hold my nose and revisit oDesk because most writing sites that I had been actively participating in had fewer and fewer opportunities available.  I was still not particularly happy with the terminology but I was sort of backed into a corner. Lo and behold, sometimes patience really IS a virtue.

On March 6th, oDesk announced they were changing the dreaded “employer” back to “client”.  YES!  I know that some confusion will probably exist especially for those who have finally gotten their heads wrapped around the notion that a person who hires in an employer. However, for those of us who were up in arms about this, the change is not only welcome, but in our opinion, way overdue.

I remain troubled over the decision to make this change in the first place. In addition, I have to admit to being more than a bit suspicious of the change coming when it did as it falls into the “tax season”. While tax season is considered by many to be a sore spot, the fact that oDesk made this change at that time is frankly, troubling.  Companies do not make changes without reason.  For whatever reason, the initial change to “employer” was made and rather sprung on the community of providers. In spite of the numerous posts yelling and screaming about it, the “party line” was that this did not impact the “relationship” between the buyer and provider. BULL PUCKIE! 

I think that oDesk owes PROVIDERs and CLIENTs an HONEST explanation of why this change took place in the first time and even more important, what happened to make them change their mind?  Again, I applaud the changes, but frankly, it opens more questions in my mind at least.

About Doreen Martel

Well-rounded freelance writer who contributes to various blogs, paid to write sites and revenue sharing sites. Doreen is legally blind and has worked at home for more than 10 years. She uses the lessons learned from this experience to enhance her writing and share information with others.

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4 Responses to Sensible changes by oDesk

  1. April 3, 2012 at 10:46 am

    It’s very odd, because if the clients were employers than they or Odesk would have to pay payroll taxes. Usually companies fight tooth-and-nail *not* to be classified as employers because they don’t want to pay the tax. Plus being an employer triggers other obligations, such as the obligation to pay overtime, etc. I’ve heard of many cases where employers tried (and failed) to get away with claiming they were not employers — but this is the first I’ve ever heard where it was the other way around.

    • April 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Agree, I have never seen a site where they “fought” for a designation they should be fleeing from ;)

  2. April 1, 2012 at 4:50 am

    From a tax perspective, there are any number of reasons why this took place. It protects oDesk in an audit is one of the larger reasons.

    My fight with banks regarding my status as an independent has been long and contentious, the definitions of what an employer is versus what a client is often mind-boggling. This is especially true when there is a third-party in the mix that takes a fee off the top of every dollar I earn.

    Just something to consider.

    • April 1, 2012 at 4:58 am

      My contention all along was that this could have ramifications for those of us who accepted work through oDesk. As I said, this should have never been done and I was gone for the best part of a year while it was the new classification.