LEGAL AND FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR FREELANCE TRANSLATORS
Contracts and Fee Agreements
The term “contract” is used frequently in the place of the term “fee agreement”, however for freelance translators, fee agreement is the term that is most commonly used. It could be that the term “contract” is too severe, however regardless to which term is used, the document must include certain components and should be prepared for each project, signed and returned to you before starting the translation work.
It is important for a freelance translator to use the proper forms to establish a professional relationship with the client; by treating the client with respect and courtesy by documenting the terms and conditions of the translation work to be completed you are showing respect for the translation business, your skills and abilities as a translator. How you conduct your business plays an important role in your success.
It is wise to state in the Fee Agreement your request for 50 percent of the agreed the for the translation work in advance which should be returned along with the signed the agreement. This works best when you work directly with a client however you must be flexible when working with agencies that must wait for the client to pay them before you are paid.
In the case of an extremely large translation project, is very common that a client will pay you 1/3 of the amount with the fee agreement is signed, a 1/3 of the amount at a designated time during the project, with the final third paid upon delivery of the completed translation project.
Components of Your Fee Agreement
Below is a list of the absolute essential components and should be included in your freelance translator fee agreement:
1. A full description of the project listing every task you are to perform
2. The scheduled date of delivery for the complete translation
3. The terms and conditions regarding revisions
4. The terms and conditions regarding payment
5. Conditions covering the late payment of fees
6. A full description of the services that you will provide
7. A full description of services excluded from the translation project, for example interviewing an expert
8. An explanation of how changes in the project will be handled
9. Copyright ownership and transfer; to be sure to emphasize the fact that you own the copyright until payment has been made in full
10. A legal disclaimer holding you harmless against any legal charges such as libel and copyright infringement
11. A provision requiring clients to provide work samples, research material, technical or terminology glossaries
When you’re working with agencies they may require you to sign a contract. Make sure you view the contract contents carefully and if there any parts of the contract that you do not understand or agree with, discuss it with the appropriate person at the agency. In some cases agencies will remove the sections in question. However should they failed to accommodate you do not sign any contract that does not meet your needs.
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