Is passing work to another freelancer acceptable practice?
Thread poster: Ludina Sallam

Ludina Sallam  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
Member (2017)
Arabic to English
Nov 3, 2018

Someone has offered to pass work to me which comes to them in a language pair they do not do. I'm wondering if this is ethical or acceptable practice in terms of confidentiality for clients. I am told the work which would be passed is not of a confidential nature, it is just marketing materials. This person would take a small part of the amount I would earn. The outsourcer would know the work is being passed on but would not know my name. Any thoughts?

 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:59
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
IMHO Nov 3, 2018

Ludina Sallam wrote:

Someone has offered to pass work to me which comes to them in a language pair they do not do. I'm wondering if this is ethical or acceptable practice in terms of confidentiality for clients. I am told the work which would be passed is not of a confidential nature, it is just marketing materials. This person would take a small part of the amount I would earn. The outsourcer would know the work is being passed on but would not know my name. Any thoughts?


If you pass work to another linguist without letting your client know about it, you could be doing something unethical, unacceptable, or even illegal. But in your case, that "someone" is your client and if his outsourcing his project to you is ethical or not is his concern, not yours. So you needn't think of it as an issue that warrants your attention.

[Edited at 2018-11-03 05:56 GMT]


Christophe Delaunay
Teresa Borges
Elif Baykara Narbay
Vanda Nissen
 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
re-outsourcing Nov 3, 2018

On one hand, it's a deal between you two, so only your terms and agreements matter. That's why you need to get specifics, including payment terms and who is responsible for what--a contract or PO should do.

On the other hand, it easily can turn to old funny A-Z logistic model: Adam accepted a project for $1000 and offered it to Ben for $900; Ben asked Charlie to translate it for $800, while Charlie outsourced the job to Donald for $700. Soon Donald called Emily and offered her th
... See more
On one hand, it's a deal between you two, so only your terms and agreements matter. That's why you need to get specifics, including payment terms and who is responsible for what--a contract or PO should do.

On the other hand, it easily can turn to old funny A-Z logistic model: Adam accepted a project for $1000 and offered it to Ben for $900; Ben asked Charlie to translate it for $800, while Charlie outsourced the job to Donald for $700. Soon Donald called Emily and offered her the job for $600. She had no time, but badly wanted some cash, so it was Frank who had to do it for $500. Frank didn't work in that field, so he offered the job to George for $400. George didn't work in the pair, but he eagerly accepted the job to forward it to Harry for $300. Harry knew uncle Xiao, who would take anything for $100. Cunning Xiao asked his lawnmower Yen to translate it for $15. Yen just was tired, so he asked his teen next-door Zayn, who could write some English, to do it for peanuts...
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writeaway  Identity Verified
Dutch to English
+ ...
Why would anyone even accept work in a pair they don't do? Nov 3, 2018

If I am offered a job in a pair I don't do (into a source language for instance), if the outsourcer requests, I send them the name/email address of a reliable colleague who can do the job. The outsourcer then contacts that person directly.
I suggest not to trust anyone who tries to earn money by acting as a middle-middle person. The outsourcer is already earning money via our work -why lose even more to someone else who is doing nothing. This sounds like a real gimmick. I wouldn't trust it
... See more
If I am offered a job in a pair I don't do (into a source language for instance), if the outsourcer requests, I send them the name/email address of a reliable colleague who can do the job. The outsourcer then contacts that person directly.
I suggest not to trust anyone who tries to earn money by acting as a middle-middle person. The outsourcer is already earning money via our work -why lose even more to someone else who is doing nothing. This sounds like a real gimmick. I wouldn't trust it.
Imo.
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Rachel Fell
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Sandra & Kenneth Grossman
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:59
Member (2018)
French to English
I'd jump at it Nov 3, 2018

If the client knows and is happy about it, if the person sending you the work is allowed to do that I don't see what the problem is.
I was offered a similar job like that recently and all went well. Basically the freelancer is working like a mini agency, and if they upscale to agency status because it works out well and they get loads more work like that, you find yourself getting first refusal for jobs in your pair at a brand new boutique agency, run by someone who understands your issue
... See more
If the client knows and is happy about it, if the person sending you the work is allowed to do that I don't see what the problem is.
I was offered a similar job like that recently and all went well. Basically the freelancer is working like a mini agency, and if they upscale to agency status because it works out well and they get loads more work like that, you find yourself getting first refusal for jobs in your pair at a brand new boutique agency, run by someone who understands your issues and probably won't expect impossible rates or deadlines from you.
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Teresa Borges
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Hedwig Spitzer
Samuel Murray
ahartje
 

Stuart Hoskins
Local time: 13:59
Czech to English
+ ...
Why the anonymity between you and the client? Nov 3, 2018

If, as a freelance translator (not an agency), I were the intermediary and I knew you to be a reputable translator, I would simply recommend and introduce you to the client and let you two get on with it. I would never dream of taking a cut on everything you earn with that client (we're not even talking a "finder's fee" here, going by what you have written). So (assuming I have read the situation correctly), while accepting that this may be common practice in certain parts of the world, personal... See more
If, as a freelance translator (not an agency), I were the intermediary and I knew you to be a reputable translator, I would simply recommend and introduce you to the client and let you two get on with it. I would never dream of taking a cut on everything you earn with that client (we're not even talking a "finder's fee" here, going by what you have written). So (assuming I have read the situation correctly), while accepting that this may be common practice in certain parts of the world, personally I find it highly unethical.

In my neck of the woods, such an approach by your acquaintance would also require him or her to register as a service intermediary (i.e. an agency); as intimated elsewhere above, you'd have to make sure you're not getting caught up in someone else's illegal activity.

[Edited at 2018-11-03 12:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-11-03 12:11 GMT]
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Sandra & Kenneth Grossman
 

Ludina Sallam  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
Member (2017)
Arabic to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for you responses Nov 3, 2018

It seems most don't think it breaches confidentiality, in this case. As for being taken advantage of, I guess that is a choice I can make based upon getting paid less versus not getting paid...
Thanks again for all your thoughts!!


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 05:59
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Misunderstood? Nov 3, 2018

Ludina Sallam wrote:

It seems most don't think it breaches confidentiality, in this case. As for being taken advantage of, I guess that is a choice I can make based upon getting paid less versus not getting paid...
Thanks again for all your thoughts!!


I think you misunderstood the replies. Most said that your acquaintance should recommend you by name to the client, and let the client contact you. It's not about confidentiality, it's unethical.


Yolanda Broad
123Translations
 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Recommend colleagues you trust Nov 5, 2018

I have recommended colleagues I trust to do a good job, to my clients.
I wouldn’t pass work sent to me (for me to do) on to another translator.


neilmac
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:59
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What happens when there is a problem? Nov 5, 2018

While this could be a very happy arrangement, you need to be very careful about possible problems and how they would be handled.
Just a few things come to mind right away:
1. The end client does not pay (for whatever reason). Are you going to be paid by this middleman?
2. The end client complains about quality. How is this going to be handled, especially that the middleman does not understand the language in question?
3. The source text is ambiguous or for some other reas
... See more
While this could be a very happy arrangement, you need to be very careful about possible problems and how they would be handled.
Just a few things come to mind right away:
1. The end client does not pay (for whatever reason). Are you going to be paid by this middleman?
2. The end client complains about quality. How is this going to be handled, especially that the middleman does not understand the language in question?
3. The source text is ambiguous or for some other reasons you have questions that only the end client can answer. How is that going to be handled, especially under time pressure?
You need to have an agreement in place that is specific about these issues and perhaps other possible pitfalls.
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Fiona Gilbert Riley
Sheila Wilson
123Translations
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Unethical?! Nov 5, 2018

What is unethical about this?

The other translator is acting as an agent and the client is aware. How is this different from any other agency work?


Teresa Borges
Georgie Scott
ahartje
Jean-Yves Préault
 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
looking-glass self Nov 6, 2018

As far as I can't see why pay some 50%+ to agencies for practically nothing, I'm looking forward to the time when pimping and pandering laws will undercut all those virtual multi-self-middlemen in all sectors, including translation.

As for this very case, is it a one-time fee or regular--and what for exactly? Anyway, it's not much different from most people and agencies taking jobs out of their scope, alas.


 

Ludina Sallam  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
Member (2017)
Arabic to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again for your responses. Nov 6, 2018

Your thoughts are useful and interesting. This is not someone I know, it is someone who found me on ProZ.com I think, but they have a good willingness to work again rating, and they are offering to take a certain percentage of each job. Being somewhat new I was glad to be offered potential jobs, even if at a lower rate. Maybe this person wants to maintain his status with his client, so he wants to "help him out" by finding the translator in the opposite language pair of what he normally does. I ... See more
Your thoughts are useful and interesting. This is not someone I know, it is someone who found me on ProZ.com I think, but they have a good willingness to work again rating, and they are offering to take a certain percentage of each job. Being somewhat new I was glad to be offered potential jobs, even if at a lower rate. Maybe this person wants to maintain his status with his client, so he wants to "help him out" by finding the translator in the opposite language pair of what he normally does. I can see that this is somewhat unethical in that he is taking a cut of my work, but also he is finding the work for me. It is a difficult question. Thank you all so much for your useful thoughts!!!Collapse


 


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