Tag Archives: CMS

CMS is Now Openforce

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Why rebrand?

CMS was founded to solve the basic hassles and needs of courier companies that utilized independent contractors. Nearly 20 years later, entire industries are redefining conventional models of work that fall short on cost, efficiency, and meeting customer demand.

That’s why from our platform to our services, we’ve matured into a leading technology company that solves complex problems for customers not only for same-day courier, but also trucking, final mile, home care, and other verticals with demand for elastic deployment of labor. 

As a result, we’ve invested a significant amount of time to update our brand identity to be consistent with the value realized by our customers and contractors—to deliver the platform for a more sustainable and profitable on-demand economy. 

WHAT WE (still) DO

We are the experts that simplify onboarding, contracting, settlement processing, and risk controls requirements for industries that demand qualified independent contractors.

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We hope you like Openforce and the new logo!

On top of a new name and bold look, you’ll see the Openforce brand on our website, social media channels, existing products, and new products that are in the works. Get ready…the next product is just around the corner!

In addition to our new public website at www.oforce.com, be sure to follow us on social media—social-in.png social-twitter.png social-fb.png—where you’ll be the first to receive updates on:

  • Openforce Products & Services
  • Industry News & Regulations
  • Customer Case Studies
  • Member Benefit Alerts for Openforce Members

This is an exciting time for Openforce. The brand transformation builds on many improvements we have made to our business, and will continue to make, as we help companies and contractors alike remove unnecessary obstacles to work without limits.

Understanding Your Business License Needs

Traditional work is changing. People want more control over their schedules, flexible working conditions, and to be their own boss. But being your own boss and business owner comes with its own unique set of challenges and unknowns—like whether you need to apply for a business license.

What is a Business License?

A business license allows you to conduct business in a specific city or municipality. Each city and town in the U.S. is different, and their requirements vary as to who must get a business license and how much the license costs. Failure to understand the licensing rules where your business is located can result in serious consequences.

Why do I Need a Business License?

Licenses are required for three main purposes:

  • To identify your business and make sure you are accountable for your actions
  • To protect the public health and safety
  • To keep track of your finances for tax purposes

Much like how incorporating may keep your business (and you) from losing personal assets in the event of a lawsuit, a license provides protection in the event that your business is damaged or if any of your team suffer from an injury. Without the license, you are the one who is held liable, along with your assets and personal finances. Fortunately, getting a business license is neither very expensive, nor time consuming, if you know where to start.

How do I Get Started?

If you’re already up to speed on your business license needs and prefer to secure them yourself, go to Business.USA.Gov. But knowing what you need can be a little tricky—that’s why we provide the resources to help guide our members in the right direction.

As an Openforce member, we offer the resources for business success:

  1. Log into your Member Benefits in your self-service online portal and click on the ‘Business’ tab
  2. Select the ‘Business Licenses’ icon to get started

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This is just one of the many business resources and benefits we provide Openforce members. Let the experts do the paperwork for you, so you can focus on the other more important aspects of getting your business up and running. Ultimately, saving valuable time and having peace of mind that you’ve filled out the proper paperwork is worth the minor expense.

NEW Aflac Benefits for Openforce Members

Independent work is on the rise, and for good reason. Being your own boss can give you better working conditions, flexible hours, and higher income potential. But despite these advantages, independent work does involve some trade-offs.

In most states, leaving a traditional, full-time job means leaving the guarantee of subsidized health insurance coverage sponsored by the employer for the uncertainty of the non-group health insurance marketplace. For independent business owners, finding the right insurance program and affordable care can be a daunting task. That’s why at Openforce, we make it a priority to offer meaningful benefits to our members—including beneficial and competitive health insurance options.

We are pleased to announce two new voluntary insurance programs offered through a partnership with Aflac.

Today, Openforce members can enroll in:

  1. Cancer Indemnity Benefits
  2. Critical Care and Recovery Insurance

These new products are designed to help protect independent contractors against unforeseen costs associated with medical issues and lost wages. The new policies help provide financial protection in the event of:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • End Stage Renal Failure
  • Coronary Bypass Surgery
  • Organ Transplants
  • Cancer, and more…

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Interested in Learning More?

To get more information about these plans, visit www.Aflac.com/openforce. This dedicated site will provide you with product videos, plan designs and the process for enrollment. Openforce Members can also find Aflac in Member Benefits within the Insurance section of the self-service portal.

Or call the dedicated Openforce enrollment line at 888-510-1222.

Agents are ready to help answer questions, provide rates, and get ICs enrolled over the phone. The process is quick and easy and will be handled over the phone without long applications to complete, sign, or fax in.

We recognize there is much work to be done on issues such as benefits, access to credit, and training and credentials for independent contractors, to name a few. Some of these may call for policy changes; others are being solved by technology innovators and integrators like Openforce. We believe providing solutions for tackling these challenges make independent work not only a more feasible option, but a successful one with one less worry for independent business owners in the gig economy.

*Plan options may vary by state. Please visit the website www.Aflac.com/openforce and speak to an agent for more details.

New Rules on NYC Freelance Isn’t Free Act

As shared in our previous blog post, also known as Local Law 140 of 2016, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act enhances and establishes protections for independent contractors by creating and protecting their right to protection from retaliation, full and timely payments, and a written contract.

Final Rules Implementing the Act

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has since published final rules implementing the Act. With the final rules taking effect soon, it’s important to understand what’s new.

The related legal blog highlights the following final rules, including:

  • The text of the Act states that it applies to “hiring parties,” defined as “any person who retains a freelance worker to provide any service” (with the exception of government entities). The rules expand upon the coverage of the Act to now apply to actions taken by “a hiring party, their actual or apparent agent, or any other person acting directly or indirectly on behalf of a hiring party.”
  • The rules place significant limitations on the terms and conditions that may be included in a contract entered into between a freelance worker and a hiring party. Specifically, any such agreement may not include:
     
    • A prospective waiver or limitation of rights under the Act,
    • A waiver or limitation on the right of the freelance worker to participate in or receive any relief (monetary or otherwise) from a class or collective action lawsuit or proceeding,
    • A waiver of “any other procedural right normally afforded to a part in a civil or administrative action” (such as procedural rights under the federal or state rules of evidence or civil procedure), and
    • Confidentiality provisions that restrict a freelance worker’s ability to disclose the terms of the agreement to the Director of the NYC Office of Labor Standards. 
  • Under the Act, covered entities may not retaliate against freelance workers for exercising or attempting to exercise their rights under the law. The rules further define what constitutes an adverse action in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of the Act, namely: “any action… that would constitute a threat, intimidation, discipline, harassment, denial of a work opportunity, or discrimination, or any other act that penalizes a freelance worker for, or is reasonably likely to deter a freelance worker from, exercising or attempting to exercise any right” guaranteed under the Act.
  • The rules further state that retaliation “may be established when a freelance worker shows that the exercise or attempt to exercise any right under the [Act] was a motivating factor for an adverse action, even if other factors also motivated the adverse action.” Thus, the final rules establish a motivating factor causation standard for claims of retaliation, as opposed to a “but-for” standard where retaliation would need to be the sole factor underlying the reason for the adverse action taken.
  • The rules clarify that freelance workers are entitled to the protections of the Act “regardless of immigration status” and that prohibited retaliation includes “any adverse action relating to perceived immigration status or work authorization.”
  • For purposes of defining the value of a contract between a freelance worker and a hiring party (both to establish coverage under the Act and to calculate statutory damages for violations of the Act), the rules state that such value includes “the reasonable value of all services performed and/or anticipated, and the reasonable costs for supplies and other expenses reasonably incurred by the freelance worker.”

We will continue to share updates to the act. In the meantime, any client doing business in NYC, or utilizing the services of a contractor who lives in NYC, should consult with legal counsel to ensure they are operating within the confines of the new law.

Exclusive Deals & Discounts for Openforce Members

As an Openforce member, you already have access to incredible savings at your fingertips. Because of our purchasing power, we are able to pass through valuable benefits, programs and services for our members. A great example is the Working Advantage network, which allows Openforce members to save up to 60 percent on ticketed events and online shopping.

blog-graphic-summer-offers.pngHow Do I Get Access?

  1. Login to your Member Benefits in the self-service online portal and click on the ‘Entertainment’ tab
  2. Click on the ‘Working Advantage’ icon
  3. Call the 800-number or click on the link for access to the Working Advantage website to register
  4. Be sure to enter the Member ID located on the page

By extending some budget-saving tips to your vacation planning, you won’t be stuck breaking the bank with your summer getaway. Sure, it might take a little more preparation ahead of time, but knowing you got a nice deal will help you relax the time away. Happy planning and vacationing this summer!

It’s Tax Time Again: Discounted Services for Openforce Members

Joint or Single Tax Return Just $179

Designed by tax specialists that understand the independent contractor model, our partner Equinox Business Solutions is extending a special discount for Openforce members. Regularly priced at $300, we’ve secured a special rate of $179 for preparing and filing a joint or single tax return. To learn more, an Equinox specialist is ready to help at 1 (800)-533-4230.

Whether it’s your tax filing, tax saving account, accounting or bookkeeping needs, the experts at Equinox will ensure your business takes advantage of all the government programs that are available to you.

This year Tax Day lands on Tuesday, April 18th. It’s generally a good idea to file as early as is practical, as early filing can result in a speedier refund. Filing early is also one of the best safeguards against fraudulent tax returns being filed in your name.

All 1099s were mailed on January 27th and are now available in the self-service portal.

Helpful Financial & Insurance Services

In addition to our tax-related discounts, Openforce also works with several financial and insurance service providers that offer our members the following helpful services:

  • 401k Plan Administration
  • Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
  • Retirement Planning
  • Disability & Long-term Care

To access these helpful benefits and discounted programs, simply login to self-service portal, your all-in-one resource, and go to your Benefits Section.

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There’s no time like the present to take advantage of these special discounts and services.

Good luck and happy filing!

Confused about Independent Contractor Classification? Factors to Consider for Compliance

Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Several key factors can be used to distinguish the difference between the classification types.

IC vs Employee Characteristics

Other factors and helpful questions to consider for independent contractor classification include:

BEHAVIOR : Does the company dictate control? 
Independent contractors are not subject to control or guidance. The independent contractor decides how to provide the contracted services and determines their hours of work, work site and equipment.

FINANCIAL : Are the business aspects controlled by the company?
Independent contractors provide their own training and tools, and are responsible for their own costs and expenses.

RELATIONSHIP TYPE : How is the relationship governed and are benefits provided?
The relationship with the independent contractor is not an employment relationship, rather a contractual arrangement exists. Independent contractors perform a specific project, are paid in accordance to the agreement, do not receive benefits beyond their financial compensation, and are not eligible for unemployment or workers’ compensation.

While these factors are high-level guidelines, there are still quite a few grey areas that can be tricky to navigate without implementing independent contractor management best practices. No one factor stands alone in making this determination. It’s vital to look at the entire relationship and consider the degree or extent of the company’s right to direct and control the independent contractor’s services.

Maintain an Arm’s Length Relationship to Help Mitigate Risk

Adhering to best practices regarding classification and verifying documentation remains up-to-date is crucial for compliance. Companies conducting business with independent contractors need to be prepared for an audit and have the required documentation to support their position of ‘an arm’s length relationship’.

Here are some additional best practices to help ensure compliance is maintained:

  • Develop a company-wide independent contractor policy to ensure a distinct and separate relationship
  • Verify your independent contractors have an established business entity with a business name and EIN to make invoiced payments
  • Negotiate rates for service, agreed upon by both parties and outlined in a signed contract with a detailed statement of work and a non-renewable contract end date

Trying to achieve compliance without a systematic approach can put your business at risk. One way to reduce this risk is to leverage a technology and services provider like Openforce. Openforce product and services have streamlined onboarding workflows, established documentation practices to demonstrate compliance, and processed billions in on-time settlement for tens of thousands of independent contractors. Openforce’s technology solutions integrates your best practices with custom streamlined compliance workflows specific to your business needs, then designs a complete solution to automate your current process.

Openforce is uniquely positioned to help companies leverage leading technology for the adoption and management of independent contractors to help maximize flexibility, reduce cost and mitigate risk. To learn more about how Openforce can help, contact us today.

[1] “Employers Do Not Always Follow Internal Revenue Service Worker Determination Ruling.” Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, June 14, 2013.

[2] “Behavioral Control” Internal Revenue Service, October 4, 2016.

[3] “Financial Control” Internal Revenue Service, October 4th, 2016.

[4] “Independent Contractor (Self-Employed) or Employee?” Internal Revenue Service, November 28, 2016.