One of the most controversial topics the language industry has faced in recent years has been the use of freelancers and/or independent contractors as interpreters by language service companies.
The controversy stems from a misconception that companies are working under an independent contractor business model, instead of an employee model, as a way of shirking tax responsibility or underpaying interpreters. Neither of which, in fact, is the case.
What is the difference between an employee and an independent contractor? An independent contractor is an individual who has the right to control and direct the result of the work that they do and how it will be done. A person is an employee if their employer controls the work that is done and how it is done.
As a company that operates under the independent contractor model, we would like to highlight a few facts and shed some light on this sensitive topic.
Fact #1: A large percentage of all interpreters and translators are independent contractors.
There are many reasons that language professionals choose to work as independent contractors.
Many prefer the flexibility of making their own schedule and being able to choose their assignments. Some choose to freelance because businesses in their area don’t have enough work to hire them full time in house.
Whatever the case, it’s definitely a popular choice for interpreters and translators alike.
Fact #2: Freelance interpreters are their own boss.
Freelance interpreters and translators run their own business. They choose their own hours and negotiate their own wages.
All language professionals who contract with language service companies are required to fill out a 1099 tax form so that their wages are reported to the government (no exceptions!). This is a practice that has been around as long as independent contractors have existed.
Fact #3: The remote interpreting business is growing annually, meaning there is more work for independent contractors than ever before.
As business around the world continues to globalize, the need for language services continues to skyrocket.
Independent contractors working with language service companies have the opportunity to work with all kinds of businesses and organizations from all over the world. Business is now being conducted in more diverse languages than previously possible, thanks to independent contractors.
Fact #4: Everybody benefits from the independent contractor model.
Freelance language professionals, language service companies, and the clients who use language services ALL benefit from the independent contractor model.
Freelancers are able to have a full, flexible workload, can choose their own projects, and may contract with more than one company at a time. Language companies are able to offer more languages and higher levels of service, therefore benefiting their clients. Clients can communicate with their customers or patients in their native tongues, providing essential care and services where language may have previously been a barrier.
If you have questions about the use of independent contractors, contact us! We’re always here to answer any questions we can.