deleting files at the end of an assignment and audits
Thread poster: eodd
eodd
Local time: 10:21
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Sep 11, 2009

I was asked to sign a contract for a company, which I haven't done yet.

One of the points in their contract was that files should be deleted at the end of an assignment. I like to keep all work that I have done, as I can often use it for reference if I get similar work from this company.

Another point was that the company could perform unannounced audits on my business practices and other matters. I don't fully understand this point and before querying it with the company I wonder if other translators have signed similar contracts and what this actually means. Does this give their auditor access to my computer? (I am not accessing any illegal sites or similar).

Any views on these two points would be appreciated, please.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:21
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You may not legally be in a position to comply with the first point Sep 11, 2009

In some countries the tax authorities specify how long you have to keep files. Here in Germany we have to keep the translations for six years as from the end of the same year, and related financial documentation for ten years from the end of the same year. Agreements of this nature originating from German agencies therefore usually state that the files should be destroyed as soon as the official period for storing them has come to an end.

I would suggest that you contact your local tax office, and determine the rules in your country.


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:21
Member (2002)
English to German
Cross it out Sep 11, 2009

I usually cross out passages I am not comfortable with. Often that will be followed by some debates but most of the time the agencies don't even send any comment about it.

Many colleagues don't even know that they don't have to sign everything the agencies send them.

You also have to consider that some of these weird clauses might be dictated by the agencies' clients. So the agencies have to pass them on but they are also not very fond of them.

And as Astrid points out some provisions are not even legal and other ones are not enforceable...

Good luck

Andy

www.interlations.com


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gad
United States
Local time: 05:21
Member
French to English
What do they mean by audits? Sep 11, 2009

I can understand the requirement to delete files. I have an agreement with one agency that I can keep old files if and only if I redact out any and all personal inforamtion. These are medical files so for confidentiality purposes, this makes sense. I can understand the need for this requirement.

I don't see why they should be able to conduct audits of your business practices. First of all, what exactly does this entail? It shouldn't breach any confidentiality between you and your other clients, particularly if they are wanting you to delete their files for confidentiality purposes.

Of course, I agree that you should investigate the laws/regulations where you and they do business to see if such provisions are even legal and enforceable. It's good that you read this up front and I believe that it's best to communicate with the client regarding these provisions.


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eodd
Local time: 10:21
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes files should be kept Sep 11, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

In some countries the tax authorities specify how long you have to keep files. Here in Germany we have to keep the translations for six years as from the end of the same year, and related financial documentation for ten years from the end of the same year. Agreements of this nature originating from German agencies therefore usually state that the files should be destroyed as soon as the official period for storing them has come to an end.

I would suggest that you contact your local tax office, and determine the rules in your country.



Thanks for this Astrid.

This information is available online (http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98513,00.html) and the period of time varies.


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eodd
Local time: 10:21
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Crossing out points on a contract Sep 11, 2009

Andy Lemminger wrote:

I usually cross out passages I am not comfortable with. Often that will be followed by some debates but most of the time the agencies don't even send any comment about it.

Many colleagues don't even know that they don't have to sign everything the agencies send them.

You also have to consider that some of these weird clauses might be dictated by the agencies' clients. So the agencies have to pass them on but they are also not very fond of them.

And as Astrid points out some provisions are not even legal and other ones are not enforceable...

Good luck

Andy

www.interlations.com


Thank you very much Andy. I wasn't aware of this. I presumed that one had to either refuse the contract or request an amended one. I checked with the company, and was informed that I could cross this out, but that it precluded me from working
with one client and the client's subsidaries. I'd rather forego working for a client that has such a condition, the extent and implication of which I don't fully understand.


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eodd
Local time: 10:21
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What is meant by audits? Sep 11, 2009

gad wrote:

I can understand the requirement to delete files. I have an agreement with one agency that I can keep old files if and only if I redact out any and all personal inforamtion. These are medical files so for confidentiality purposes, this makes sense. I can understand the need for this requirement.

I don't see why they should be able to conduct audits of your business practices. First of all, what exactly does this entail? It shouldn't breach any confidentiality between you and your other clients, particularly if they are wanting you to delete their files for confidentiality purposes.

Of course, I agree that you should investigate the laws/regulations where you and they do business to see if such provisions are even legal and enforceable. It's good that you read this up front and I believe that it's best to communicate with the client regarding these provisions.


Thanks for your reply. Yes, one really needs to go through these contracts carefully.

I contacted the company, but no information about what an audit involved was given. I don't like the idea of someone "poking around" on my computer and I would feel that other clients' confidentially could be compromised.

Incidentally after I posted this query I found a similar issue under http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/140798-another_unacceptable_agreement_another_ex_client.html


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:21
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
audit Sep 12, 2009

eodd wrote:


Another point was that the company could perform unannounced audits on my business practices and other matters. I don't fully understand this point and before querying it with the company I wonder if other translators have signed similar contracts and what this actually means. Does this give their auditor access to my computer? (I am not accessing any illegal sites or similar).

Any views on these two points would be appreciated, please.



I was offered a contract once (can't remember whether I signed or not, but if not it was not because of the audit clause) where the translation agency reserved the right to audit my work place. The purpose of that audit was to verify that
- the translator uses virus protection (to avoid that viruses will be spread to the end clients)
- no unauthorized person is allowed to or could easily obtain access to confidential client data
- the translator - to a reasonable extent - does everything to ensure the work flow is not disrupted by technical problems (e.g. second computer in case the main computer stops working, back-up copies of files, etc.)

Does your contract contain any requirements of the above kind? Do they ask you to follow some specific business practices? An audit only makes sense if they give you specific guidelines you need to comply with.


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Niels Stephan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:21
Member (2009)
English to German
Audit Sep 12, 2009

If I remember correctly there has been a similar discussion about this in the past. The result was that it was for some ISO certification or something like this. Agencies/companies have to get audited on a regular base to get certified and have to prove the same - or at least the possibility for it - for all elements of their work chain.
I remember that a client once told me something similar.

Additionally one should always take into account the probability (and the effort) of a client - probably from abroad - knocking on your door. Anyway, everybody has to decide for herself if that is acceptable.


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xxxPaul Daubreu
Local time: 11:21
French to German
+ ...
Agree and disagree Sep 12, 2009

Niels Stephan wrote:

If I remember correctly there has been a similar discussion about this in the past. The result was that it was for some ISO certification or something like this. Agencies/companies have to get audited on a regular base to get certified and have to prove the same - or at least the possibility for it - for all elements of their work chain.
I remember that a client once told me something similar.

Additionally one should always take into account the probability (and the effort) of a client - probably from abroad - knocking on your door. Anyway, everybody has to decide for herself if that is acceptable.


Near enough, Niels... This is what I can agree upon, it seems to me to be a regular procedure within any kind of certification procedure. But, and that will be my main point in this post, we never should forget that each company sets its own QA procedures according to its actual or supposed needs. So if the CEO of the company decides that something ridiculous has to be part of its QA procedures, is this reason enough for us translators to comply with said point?
Furthermore, and as it has been stated before, why should QA procedures contradict existing laws or - as it happens - codes of conduct implemented by professional associations (as an example, the ATA has an article about not asking for free translation tests: I will not require translators or interpreters to do unpaid work for the prospect of a paid assignment.)?

So maybe, anybody has to decide for themselves what is acceptable but this is what I would call "subjectivity" against the "objectivity" of laws, regulations, codes of conduct and so on.



[Edited at 2009-09-12 15:05 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:21
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Unacceptable, of course Sep 12, 2009

Aside from possible statutory requirements, the law of CYA requires you to archive copies of the work in case there are disputes later. I have seen a company sue a translator over a defective translation, and the case was only dismissed because the translator could prove that the source text in the complaint was not the same as the one translated. The agency through which the job was done no longer had the relevant records.

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xxxPaul Daubreu
Local time: 11:21
French to German
+ ...
Nice methods... Sep 12, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:

(.../...). I have seen a company sue a translator over a defective translation, and the case was only dismissed because the translator could prove that the source text in the complaint was not the same as the one translated. The agency through which the job was done no longer had the relevant records.


and so much for the alleged "value" of translations, for some outsourcers at least.



[Edited at 2009-09-12 20:35 GMT]


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
I refused to accept these clauses Sep 12, 2009

I was asked to sign a contract with these same clauses three years ago.

eodd wrote:
One of the points in their contract was that files should be deleted at the end of an assignment. I like to keep all work that I have done, as I can often use it for reference if I get similar work from this company.


I also keep all my work forever, the first year I signed the clause and kept doing what I had always done (BTW, I'd worked for this company for many, many years, it was one of my best clients at the time), but the following year I refused to sign it, but mostly because of this:


Another point was that the company could perform unannounced audits on my business practices and other matters. I don't fully understand this point and before querying it with the company I wonder if other translators have signed similar contracts and what this actually means. Does this give their auditor access to my computer? (I am not accessing any illegal sites or similar).


I found it completely unacceptable to allow a translation agency to have the right to access my place of business/home for any "audit". Oh, that will never happen, they told me when I returned the contract with the two clauses stricken out, but you cannot remove these parts form the contract.

I have not worked for them since...


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:21
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
The litmus test Sep 13, 2009

David Russi wrote:
... Oh, that will never happen, they told me ....

I have not worked for them since...


Well, now, if it will never happen, then they don't need that clause, do they? Consider yourself lucky to be rid of that customer. One of the things I value most about my present circle of clients (agency and direct clients) is the fact that I deal with reasonable people who have the courage to trust their own common sense. Almost without exception. It wasn't always this way, and such people are most likely not a majority. It takes a while to blow off all the chaff.

Of course you could ignore the clause and go your merry way, archiving everything as common sense and possibly the law require you to. However, I consider matters like this to be a sort of litmus test. If the client insists on mindless adherence to a useless and possibly illegal contract clause, there may quite possibly be other difficulties in the future where they obstinately cling to what's wrong and you are made to pay for it. It's a matter of trust, really. Don't trust someone who lacks the "courage" to accept appropriate amendments to an illegal or unreasonable contract. Not even if you have no work on your calendar.


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