Asking for advice and feedback regarding a clause in a contract
Thread poster: Haytham Boles

Haytham Boles  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Aug 8, 2011

Hello dear colleaques,

I got an email from a translation company about a prospective business who wants to have my information in their databasis. They sent me an application form to fill and a contract to sign. Actually this is the first time I am signing a translation contract, since I offer my services to another translation company without any contract. (In fact, I signed a contract once, but of different type). So you can see I am not familiar with such contracts. After reading the contract carefully I think everything sounds okay. However, there is a provision I find unfair, unacceptable and harmful.

"...... I agree that if it is found that my work and/or behavior was below standards as identified by the Company and/or its client, that the Company may offset a portion of my earnings and the Company reserves the right to relieve me of my duties from any project immediately."

I do want to do business with this translation company and I do not want to lose them because I see it as a good opportunity to add a new client to my list and to grow in my career because I have only two clients so far. I think you understand quite well how I do feel about it.

Please I will be happy to get any advice or feedback from you about this matter, especially about the first two lines of the clause in the contract which I find unfair. I need to know is it quite normal and okay to have such provision?

Thank you all,
Haytham


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Walk away from this Aug 8, 2011

Haytham Boles wrote:

..... there is a provision I find unfair, unacceptable and harmful.

"...... I agree that if it is found that my work and/or behavior was below standards as identified by the Company and/or its client, that the Company may offset a portion of my earnings and the Company reserves the right to relieve me of my duties from any project immediately."


Haytham- I would advise you to have nothing to do with these people. If they are capable of slipping something like this into a contract, who knows what else they're capable of. By persuading you to commit to it, perhaps by tempting you with empty promises, they would have you over a barrel forever. Walk away while you can! There are plenty of other fish in the sea.

[Edited at 2011-08-08 08:26 GMT]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
I suggest to ask them to remove that paragraph Aug 8, 2011

Hello Haytham

Perhaps you could ask them to remove it, I did it more than once with similar (not exactly but...) and the paragraph was deleted.

If they don't, then I agree with Tom, but it's worth to try not?

HTH

Angie

P.S. I did not see, that they ask to sign a contract just to be in their database, in this case I agree with Tomas, just sign if there is a real job...

[Edited at 2011-08-08 09:13 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A contract just to be in the database??? Aug 8, 2011

I would never sign a contract just to be inserted in a database. I would tell the customer that you will be happy to be in the database, but that no contract will be signed unless there is an actual, firm order on the table.

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Holly Nathan  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:10
Italian to English
don't understand the last bit Aug 8, 2011

Haytham Boles wrote:
"...... I agree that if it is found that my work and/or behavior was below standards as identified by the Company and/or its client, that the Company may offset a portion of my earnings and the Company reserves the right to relieve me of my duties from any project immediately."

Thank you all,
Haytham


I'd be thinking what Tom has already said but I'd ask them for some further explanation too. Does this mean that if you get a massive job that will take up most of your day for three weeks then they could just drop you come day 10 and pay you nothing? Hmmmmmmm.

[Edited at 2011-08-08 09:23 GMT]


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Harsh, but business-like Aug 8, 2011

I disagree with my esteemed colleagues. The terms are certainly harsh, but only come into force if your work and/or behaviour are deemed to be below standard. What is wrong with that? Seems a perfectly normal and reasonable business-like stipulation. The answer is to deliver quality translations, and this threat will never be enforced. A contract or agreement needs to cover all eventualities, and that is what this is all about.

Translators often get emotional and negative and frightened when faced with such apparently harsh reality. What is needed is a business-like approach.

By all means discuss it with the company. I suspect you will find them helpful. If not, then perhaps you should seriously consider whether you want to work for them. But a discussion will clearly the air and provide a sound basis for a good working relationship. Go for it!


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Susana Valdez  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:10
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
What is "below standard"? Aug 8, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:

The terms are certainly harsh, but only come into force if your work and/or behaviour are deemed to be below standard. What is wrong with that?


The problem here is that it was not defined what is considered to be "below standard". This can be very subjective.


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:10
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Don't understand either Aug 8, 2011

Susana Valdez wrote:

Peter Linton wrote:

The terms are certainly harsh, but only come into force if your work and/or behaviour are deemed to be below standard. What is wrong with that?


The problem here is that it was not defined what is considered to be "below standard". This can be very subjective.


If I read the sentence correctly, it says "I agree that if it is found that my work and/or behavior was below standards as identified by the Company ", which I would interpret that a) both work and behavior is below standard, or b) if work only or c)behavior only.

Well, I understand the part a) and b), but not c) "behavior only"? Like what? Drinking while working? Or listening to your favorite music on a radio while working on the job? How would they know if you were doing what I wrote above?


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
Reasonable side note Aug 8, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:

... The terms are certainly harsh, but only come into force if your work and/or behaviour are deemed to be below standard. What is wrong with that? Seems a perfectly normal and reasonable business-like stipulation. The answer is to deliver quality translations, and this threat will never be enforced. A contract or agreement needs to cover all eventualities, and that is what this is all about. ...


What is wrong with protecting your business interests with a few well-formulated legalese phrases and stipulations, don't we all have T&C to do exactly the same? I would approach the agency and ask which criteria they use for determining the quality as well as what they deem inappropriate, and only then make up my mind whether or not to work for the agency.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:10
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No job, no contract Aug 8, 2011

First of all I would not sign a contract until they are actually offering you a job. Secondly I would ask them to remove that section or clarify what their 'standards' are.

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Haytham Boles  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hello Tina. What do you exactly mean by "... until thay are actually offering a job." Thanks. Aug 8, 2011

Tina Vonhof wrote:

First of all I would not sign a contract until they are actually offering you a job. Secondly I would ask them to remove that section or clarify what their 'standards' are.


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Haytham Boles  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Tomas. The company said they are looking for certain linguists for future jobs. Aug 8, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I would never sign a contract just to be inserted in a database. I would tell the customer that you will be happy to be in the database, but that no contract will be signed unless there is an actual, firm order on the table.













I do not know when the company wants to start business with me, but from the email I got from them I understand that they are looking for Assyrian linguists for for their future Assyrian, Neo-Aramaic jobs. and they also stated this "We also have a potential client who’s going to need ongoing translation work and we’d love to have you in our database for this!"
If interested, please send us a copy of your resume along with the attached application and NDA forms herewith.

It looks that the company will need my services in the language they are looking for one day, but they do not say "we want to hire you right now". They need my services as an independent contractor.

Now Tomas. What do you think?

Thank you.
Haytham


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:10
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would understand the clause Aug 8, 2011

and agree with Peter if it had to do with an ISO-compliant company with a regular revision mechanism in place; I would also understand that any such complaints on my copy will have to be sent back to me with the revisor's remarks. Perhaps it's worth clarifying where they draw the line.

Otherwise, it does sound arbitrary. But there are perfectly logical ways of quantifying such deductions as may be applicable (copy that cannot be revised at the rate of 1,200 words/hr, more than 4 errors for every 500 words, etc.). I suggest you take a pro-active view of the situation and request for specific clarification.

[Edited at 2011-08-08 22:58 GMT]


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Haytham Boles  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanking my collegues for their helpful comments Aug 26, 2011

Hello colleagues,

Thank you Tom, Angie, Thomas, Holly, Peter, Susan, Yasutomo, Theo, Tina, and Parrot for your valuable and helpful comments and feedback on the topic I presented. I really appreciate your help!

Best wishes,
Haytham Boles


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:10
French to German
+ ...
The heart of the matter Aug 26, 2011

Susana Valdez wrote:

Peter Linton wrote:

The terms are certainly harsh, but only come into force if your work and/or behaviour are deemed to be below standard. What is wrong with that?


The problem here is that it was not defined what is considered to be "below standard". This can be very subjective.


If there is no way of knowing what this translation company means when speaking of "(quality) standards", there is no possibility to define "below standard" either.

It is certainly business-like and fair to expect "quality" as long as the company requiring it is also ready to share its quality standards with its subcontractors.

The massive rejection of such clauses as seen in this thread stems from the fact that any "quality standards" are held in the dark until the day the translation company sees it fit to braid a rope with them.


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