There are a handful of initialisms that strike fear in the hearts of Travailleur Indépendants. URSSAF and CIPAV are two, but careful, financial planning and a good accountant can help lower one's blood pressure. DIRECCTE is another, but hyper time-management and an Excel fetish can help cure the hives that break out when dealing with this administrative hurdle.
But the letters from the alphabet that drain the color from many of my fellow independents' faces are: O.P.C.A. or: organisme paritaire collecteur agréé. In short: mandatory funding managed by a government agency for employee training in the private industry. Warning, any sentence that includes the words "funding" and "government" means bracing yourself for an administrative migraine.
Putting up with the admin abyss and gaining access to the OPCAs can open doors to bigger clients, internal referrals for more training, multipliers at top management and ultimately, more long-term contractual commitments.
OPCA funding 101
Different OPCAs have different rules. There are different OPCAs for different industries. But these steps should give you and idea of what to expect when you wade into that murky, paperwork-infested lagoon. Apologies for all the hedging.
Step one: Get your Numéro de déclaration d'activité. If you don't have this registration number, or don't intend to apply for it, then stop reading. Now.
Step two: It depends. If you've been approached by a company that requires OPCA funding then you might (repeat, might) be able to put Numéro de déclaration d'activité en cours on your contract and, eventually, on the fiche organisme de formation you send to the OPCA (see step six). For example, Christina Rebuffet-Broadus happily found this to be the case with FAFIEC. You need a contract in order to get a Numéro de déclaration d'activité and you could use this first contract to get your foot in DIRECCTE's door.
Step three: Your client should notify their OPCA of their intention to bring you on as a training provider. You should then receive the OPCA's "fiche organisme de formation" to fill out.Try to stay calm. You'll likely need:
- An Extrait K-bis (NB: Travailleur Indépendants don't have this. They have a Certificat d'Inscription from INSEE / URSSAF. A photocopy of this proof of your SIRET will do).
- Récépissé de déclaration d'activité from DIRECCTE, (proof your declaration number is active. You have to request this document from DIRECCTE and, sometimes, it can take a while.)
- Copies of your Bilan Pédagogique et Financier (BPF) from the last two years, signed by your accountant (see step two above),
- A RIB,
- A brochure advertising your services. A bit of knowledge of fancy word-processing software, a good eye and a color printer should do the trick. Or get it done right and pay someone to write and design a brochure for you.
|OPCAs up close|
Now, you may be asked to produce all of these documents in 10 days (wait...what?!). But the good news is since the DNA of OPCAs is hoops and hoops of administration, they are likely to be sympathetic if you can't get those documents in on time. Just send them a polite letter apologizing for the delay.
Step four: Dance a little jig in your living room when the OPCA notifies you that they've approved your dossier.
Step five: The OPCA should then send you a separate contract for the training and ask you for a programme détaillé and a copy of the contract you signed with your new client.
Step six: Write an amazing training proposal (programme détaillé). In it, include the training objectives, the types of trainees, the number of hours, a description of the training, your methodology, materials, where the training will take place and how you will evaluate the trainees. The time you invest writing this training proposal will help save you time down the road when your client is thrilled with your high-quality teaching and wants to renew the contract.
Step seven: At the end of the training, send signed presence sheets and a bill to the OPCA, not your client. Payment may take up to two to three months.
Some of you may have set up a training package that lasts over a year. If so, good going! But waiting until the end of the training to get paid can cause your bank account to collapse in fits of dry heaves. Rebuffet-Broadus recently spoke to a very nice lady at FAFIEC and found out: "I can send the first bill after the first 10 hours of training. Then, it's up to me when I bill. I don't have to specify the billing frequency in the convention de formation (I asked just to be sure), but I can if I want."
So calling the OPCA directly can pay off if you run into any snags along the way.
If you find all the OPCA admin utterly daunting and impossible to do on your own, but you still want to give it a shot, I strongly recommend joining The Language Network. For a small, incredibly affordable annual fee, members get access to additional help dealing with OPCAs including how to fill out the initial paperwork, writing a training proposal, billing, etc.
Good luck on your journey! Hang in there. But remember: there's a reason why OPCA rhymes with vodka.