Back to ยป Love the way you work.

oDesk Payroll

oDesk Payroll

The Benefits of Full-Time Employment, The Flexibility of Freelancing

  • Access benefits unavailable to most freelancers, such as group health insurance and 401(k) retirement plans
  • Avoid the hassle of managing quarterly self-employment taxes

Without decreasing your pay!


New to oDesk? The upside is huge

Contractors can join oDesk Payroll to access affordable group rates on health insurance and retirement programs unavailable to most freelancers, plus guaranteed payment and other added features of working through oDesk.

Assume that your client pays $25 per hour:

staffing agency
W-2 through
oDesk Payroll
Client pays $25/hr $25/hr
Taxes and fees $7 (26%) $5 (20%)
Contractor gets $18.48 $20
Guaranteed payment? No Yes

Join oDesk and:

  • Enjoy Guaranteed Payment — oDesk assures that every hour worked is an hour paid.
  • Invoice Easily — Avoid the hassle of creating invoices and time sheets, with oDesk's proven system that does it all for you.
  • Control Your Income — Set your own hourly rate based on your skills, experience and reputation.

Who's eligible?

U.S.-based workers providing at least 30 total hours of services a week qualify for benefits through oDesk Payroll.

  • oDesk providers can work for existing and future buyers through oDesk Payroll.
  • Contractors new to oDesk can start working through oDesk Payroll immediately to become eligible.
  • Both new and existing providers can work for multiple buyers/clients through oDesk Payroll, and gain eligibility by averaging 30 hours of weekly work across all buyers.

Existing oDesk provider? Get more value for the same pay

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

Assume that your buyer pays $25 per hour:

through oDesk
W-2 through
oDesk Payroll
Client pays $25/hr $25/hr
Taxes and fees $5
10% oDesk fee and
~10% self-employment tax
20% fee includes
tax withholding
Contractor gets ~$20 $20
Guaranteed payment? Yes Yes


What benefits are offered via oDesk Payroll?

oDesk Payroll offers several benefits for providers:

  • Simplified Taxes: For every hour you work through oDesk Payroll, you avoid the need to pay self-employment taxes or estimated quarterly tax payments. Because you are a W-2 employee of oDesk's staffing affiliate, payroll taxes are deducted from your take-home pay and submitted on your behalf.
  • Group Health Benefits: If you average at least 30 hours per week via oDesk Payroll, you become eligible for one of Anthem's affordable group health plans, which carries significant advantages over individual plans — it includes higher benefit limits and no restrictions for pre-existing conditions. If you drop below 30 hours per week you become eligible for COBRA.
  • 401(k) Savings Plans: oDesk Payroll workers are eligible to participate in our 401(k) savings plan after one month.
  • Unemployment benefits: Your employment via oDesk Payroll allows you to qualify for state unemployment benefits should your work slow down or stop (self-employed contractors are unable to file for unemployment benefits.)

What are the healthcare plan options?

Click here to request a quote for a healthcare plan.

What are the monthly premiums?

The monthly costs are based on your age and coverage selections. For example, the Basic PPO plan for a 35-year old ranges from $135 per month for individual coverage to $400 for family coverage. Email us at to receive a full schedule of pricing and plans.

Who determines whether I work as an independent contractor or through oDesk Payroll?

You and your buyer/employer can independently determine the best working relationship for you. Many buyers will decide that because of the nature of your work, they must hire you via oDesk Payroll to ensure compliance with worker classification guidelines. It then becomes your decision if oDesk Payroll membership is right for you, and whether to continue working with the buyer if the W-2 classification is required.

You may also choose to conduct all of your business on oDesk through oDesk Payroll. Assuming you average at least 30 hours per week across all buyer engagements through oDesk Payroll, you will have ongoing access to the benefits plans offered by membership.

Will oDesk Payroll help me find work?

No - you are still responsible for finding your own work on oDesk. oDesk Payroll is an alternative way to be paid on oDesk, but you still source and select your own assignments. You retain all of the flexibility to find and accept work as you see fit.

How does my compensation change?

In most cases the net impact after taxes is minimal. You will notice an impact to your take-home pay, though. As an independent contractor, you pay your taxes directly from your take-home pay on a quarterly basis. As an employee via oDesk Payroll, the payroll and income taxes are accounted for and deducted from your take-home pay, and you do not need to pay any significant additional taxes.
You still determine your own rate on oDesk, and you may choose to renegotiate your rate to account for any additional cost to you. Discuss with your buyers your classification status to prevent confusion.

What are the eligibility requirements of the health care benefits?

You must work at least 30 hours a week through oDesk Payroll for one month. After that month, you become eligible on the first day of the following month, so the total waiting period will be between 31 and 61 days. After that, you have to maintain an average of at least 30 hours of work per week to maintain your benefits. Since these are group benefits, the health care plans have none of the coverage limits or pre-existing condition requirements found in most individual plan options.

What happens if I drop below 30 hours per week after my initial eligibility?

Your hours are reviewed bi-weekly. If you drop below the 30-hour average, oDesk Payroll will contact you to discuss your expected hours going forward. oDesk Payroll can continue your coverage at its discretion if the drop in hours is temporary. If your hours are expected to remain below 30 hours per week going forward, you will be eligible for continuation of benefits through COBRA.

Are there any rate limitations as an hourly employee through oDesk Payroll?

Yes — you must earn at least minimum wage for your state if you are managing the assignment through oDesk Payroll. Because you receive 80% of what the buyer pays, the buyer's pay rate must be at least 25% higher than the minimum wage for your state. For example, if your state miminum wage is $8/hour, the buyer rate must be at least $10/hour. To calculate the minimum buyer rate, multiply your state's minimum wage by 1.25.

Why is oDesk Payroll only for US providers?

oDesk Payroll is designed specifically for the US employment regulations. It allows buyers a way to ensure compliance with worker classification, and enables providers a means to acquire group health care benefits. In the future, we will be evaluating similar programs in other countries.