It’s Not a Crime to Use Independent Contractors!

In recent years the interpreting industry has been criticized, and in some instances, accused of committing federal crimes for using independent contractors as interpreters. Something is seriously wrong with this way of thinking.

Using contractors is often a better way to recruit the right professional for the job. Every interpretation job is different. A language service company that relies only on employees could easily be put in a situation where no employee is the best interpreter for that particular job.

Interpreters have very specialized skills. Ask the most highly skilled interpreters and they will readily tell you that as qualified as they are, they sometimes have to turn down jobs because they know that particular situation is not one where they can be certain to do excellent work.

For example, an interpretation company might have two Spanish interpreters on staff as employees. A law firm calls them to do Spanish interpretation for a client. Of course, the interpretation company would send one of its employees. But if the law firm client is from Argentina, and the Spanish-speaking employees are skilled in the language and customs of Mexico or Spain, the employees are likely to struggle with the Argentinean accent and other variation in the language.

Language service companies often send interpreters with engineers who are attending meetings in distant countries. They cannot send a great interpreter if that interpreter specializes in the health care industry and doesn’t know basics of the engineering field. The needs of every assignment are particular. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for a language service company to have enough employees to meet every specific need. Using contractors gives companies literally thousands of options so they can better match the interpreter to the assignment.

People who argue that interpreters should be employees of the company make several points. Their arguments include that using employees gives more stability to both the employing company and the interpreter. And employees enjoy workers compensation protection.  But look at this issue from the client’s point of view.

The client could care less whether the interpreter is a contractor or an employee. What does the client care about? Accurate, high quality interpreting. By using a database of hundreds of contractors we can better assure accurate interpreting than if we rely on a much smaller number of employees. Now look at this from the interpreter’s point of view.

Interpreters enjoy managing their own schedule and flexibility to work when they want or have time to make extra income.


  1. Theresa Reyna says:

    Hi Francesco,
    Great points! Running a multi-language agency myself, I agree with you 100%. For us to give our client the best candidate possible, we have to have a larger pool to select from. Limiting us to only use interpreters/translators that are on the payroll list. will limit us from providing qualified candidates to our clients.

  2. francesco says:

    Thanks Theresa. It is a real issue out there and all stakeholders need to stay educated on how our industry works. I hope you signed the petition on this site as we continue to fight this on a national level!

  3. Bill Graeper says:

    Great piece buddy!

  4. francesco says:

    Kamil, You can absolutely link to this article from your website. Please share the word!

    @ Bill – Thanks!

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