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Exploitation of in-house translators
Thread poster: Zaltys
Zaltys
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:26
French to English
+ ...
Dec 13, 2001

I am working in-house for a translation company. However, there are lots of things that I am not happy about. Apart from the fact that it takes ages to get to work from my house, there seems to be an incredible degree of exploitation and abuse. It is a small company and the \'boss\' has absolute power over everything and takes full advantage of that. He can pay himself however much he wants, and is currently employing his wife to cover the duties of the secretary who is in hospital, and is paying his wife more than the secretary! It can\'t be legal. He takes days off whenever he feels like it, without bothering to inform any of the translators. The not-very-well-paid translators are basically running his company for him.

Now his wife thinks that translators are stealing toilet rolls and using too much of the stuff! It doesn\'t look like they will buy any more for a while. It\'s just insulting and paranoid.

About four months ago, he took on 5 newly-qualified translators, including myself. Now he says that the company isn\'t making enough profits and is spending loads of money on salaries (I guess he never consulted an accountant before hiring more people). However, the company has not obtained any new clients or extra work since the new translators started working there. There is one possible new client in the pipeline (\'You should see my new company car when we get the contract\',the boss said). My \'six month review\' is happening in February I am afraid that I will not be required any more. There certainly doesn\'t look like much hope of getting a pay rise in the current situation.

Is this in fact just normality? I would appreciate the opinions of Proz members and any advice on the situation. I would like to find a new job which is closer to home and hopefully pays more, but I would like some advice on that too. Ideally I would work freelance, but is there any realistic chance of doing that with four months experience? I have no savings to support me while I establish myself. I\'ve been looking in the papers for in-house jobs involving French and Italian, but I haven\'t found anything in London. Could anyone give me advice on how to find a new job or any useful contacts? I\'d really appreciate it.


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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:26
German to English
+ ...
Take a part-time job and start as freelancer Dec 13, 2001

1. Yes, it is legal to employ and grossly overpay family members. It is a common ploy. In non-profit companies profits are distributed via salaries. Sometimes children distributing mail get paid more than working professionals. If you work in a place like this: LEAVE! A part-time job can help with the start-up as freelancer.

I once tried to make some extra money working as German teacher at Berlitz. They were quick with a job offer: Salary, less than minimum wage if you calculate one hour preparation for one hour of teaching. I laughed and left, that\'s all anyone can (and should) do.

Be enterprising, specialize, think of new products to offer: You\'ll make it!

Here\'s to your success!


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Carole Muller
Denmark
Local time: 19:26
English to French
+ ...
the toilet paper issue is not uncommon and its' a revealing indicator Dec 13, 2001

Dear Zaltys,



You\'ll never believe this, I ve encountered the toilet paper story myself and I have acquaintances who have to.



It\'s a VERY BAD SYMPTOM. It\'s revealing something about the character of the employer which transcends the lack of clients or the fluctuating turnovers.



BEWARE to start inquiring for another job NOW and well ahead of you 6 month interview.



Take any job even not directly translation related: editing at a journsla for instance, and since you ahve an MA in technical translations, why not look for all related editing positions: journals, scientific journals, maazines, web zines.



When you have time to surface you\'ll have time to think whether you want to become freelance or not. I\'d advise you to accumulate some more experience-not translation experience as such- but client exposure experience and job /cooperation experience before \"retiring\" as a freelancer. As a freelancer you are VERY MUCH on your own. Build some contact nets now, obviously not in the environment you\'re in.



And yes, itøs legal and very much done to overpay family members, as the above comment states to extract profits out of the company twice (deduct them from taxes as \"costs\").



Good luck
[addsig]


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mimichan
Local time: 13:26
English to Japanese
+ ...
Not surprising at all Dec 14, 2001

Your story reminds me of my previous roommate and a friend of mine who worked for a prestigious law firm.

Businesses know that people are often desperate to get a job and that as long as they are paying tax, they would not be caught. My previous roommate who had a college degree and was bilingual was working on full commision, which means if his work does not bring in profit, he cannot eat. His company knew that he desperately wanted to work in the US and that he would do anything to get a working visa to stay away from guerilla wars and criminal organizations. I could have done research and found out whether it was legal to exploit labor in such a way in the state where I was. If he did sue the company, he would lose his job, there would be no guarantee that he would be able to get a new job before his visa expires and the chances of him getting killed in his own country would be greater. Governmental agencies would not care as long as the company is paying tax and they don\'t get pressure from lobbiests who are hired by companies that produce competing products.

The person who was working in a prestigious US based law firm which also has branch offices in many different countries was woring over 18 hours a day even on Saturdays and Sundays and was only paid $1.8K in the US, which was barely enough to cover cost of living in that state. But still, that person was the best paid among the people who came from the country (s)he came from. She turned in her resignation and the law firm did not let her go. When (s)he tried to get a new jot elsewhere after submitting his/her resignation, the law firm gave terrible references.(That person is ok now in another country.)

If you have the energy and time to do it, try to do things simultaneously, try to find tranlation jobs from different agencies on a free lance basis, keep on applying for jobs (although the job market is tight now and you need to be patient.) Sorry for making it too long.


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Greencayman  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
No only you Dec 14, 2001

I know the same problem! But, for they -owners and family- we are their soldiers, just this!

Working free lance is very difficult, mostly in this time, but try!

My best regards!


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ivosalim
Indonesian to English
+ ...
so it happens everywhere May 10, 2002

thought it only happens here in my country. I was an in house translator till just a couple of months ago, i got sick getting never ending translation tasks with such little money that came in my pocket at the end of the month. I\'m trying freelance jobs now, hope i\'ll find better fortune this way.

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