I saw this question posted at a forum I participate in and thought I’d share my answer here for readers too.
Virtual Assistants are self-employed operators, they are not employees. The VA industry has evolved with the growth of Networks (which are not employer companies) – networks of virtual assistant members who benefit through web site (directory) listings, referrals or job leads from clients, members benefit from existing advertising already in place (many of the networks are well placed in search engines) and they also provide a varied collection of other member benefits such as chat forums (which are great for 24/7 help desk type support), web hosting and web design discounts in many cases, coaching and mentoring programs, how-to books, and other things that will assist a VA in establishing his or her business.
These networks also attract an international membership, and are generally not country specific, so providing things that are employee-type benefits are not the usual practice. Again, I emphasise they are generally not companies and not employers. I have heard of one company that is set up to employ virtual workers (there may be others), but again this is not how the virtual assistant networks are set up. Networks do not employ virtual assistants, they assist the VA industry and their members.
Your membership fee is usually annual and is tax deductible, just as membership to any other industry based network would be for business operators, e.g. Accountants, Lawyers, tradies, etc.
Some Virtual Assistants sub-contract to other (newer) VAs which helps get them started, but again this frequently happens inside the VA networks where relationships have been built – they’re reluctant to outsource work to someone they don’t know and of whose abilities they have no knowledge. The forums inside the networks help to facilitate the relationship building.
I’ve added some links to networks to help get you, the reader, started if you’re looking for more information.