BlogBusiness School for Translators
Lesson 19: Terms and conditions for translators
Translators are still scarily passive when comes to terms and conditions – we keep signing them (hopefully, after reading) for agencies, we do that sometimes for bigger direct clients, but only a very small percentage of us actually have their own terms and conditions. Well, are you wondering why would you need them?
When I’ve stumbled upon this poll on Proz.com, I was shocked that 51% of respondents don’t have their own T&C. And Marina, one of readers here, suggested this topic. So here we go.
Terms and conditions regulate the business between you and your customer. They protect your rights, limit your liability and provide you with security. For some time in my career I was thinking that a verbal agreement or a few words here and there in emails can do. I never had any problems with non- or late payers, no cancellations or no disputes. I was usually sending my direct clients my invoice that also contained some points on payment and complains, or – with bigger projects – I had a contract with more comprehensive points.
But doing business is not only about getting paid on time or agreeing on delivery format. I soon realised that I needed terms and conditions to protect myself from these unpleasant situations that hardly ever happen. But when they do happen, you’d better be on the safer side.
In general, terms and conditions cover the following aspects:
It may seem daunting, but hey – great news! There are model terms and conditions prepared specifically for translators out there. ATA’s website contains a Model Contract for Translators which can be used as it is, or changed into a terms and conditions document. Also, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting issued their recommended Model General Terms of Business for commissioned Translation Work. You can use them as they are, or adapt them to your own business.
So you have your brand new shiny terms and conditions ready, but they won’t be of use if… you don’t communicate them to your client. Remember that they need to be aware of your terms of business before they accept your offer. How do you do that?
I usually send my T&Cs together with my invoice, but I’m planning to put them up on my website. How do you deal with that?