Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Standard minutes of breaks for an 8-hour day?
Thread poster: StephanieLindq

StephanieLindq
Sweden
Local time: 04:47
Member (2016)
Swedish to English
Jan 10

I am in the running for a full-time translation job, which means 8 hours of work a day, 5 days a week, sometimes in-house. I need to include some breaks into these 8 hours, so I was wondering what the standard is for the amount of breaks in a full workday. I've always worked on a per-word basis and as long as I've got the work done on time I've managed my own breaks and haven't thought about it much. The company does not have a lot of experience with translators so I need to lead them in the right direction.
Can anyone advise? Thank you!


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Employment law Jan 10

Shouldn't your employer have a grasp of the requirements of employment law?!

I think 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon and 30-60 minutes for lunch is pretty standard in Sweden and elsewhere, and seems reasonable to me.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not sure why no. of words/day should not be a standard in a full-time job Jan 10

In the US, as far as I know, a half hour for lunch plus two 15-minute breaks are required by law. (In some work settings, this time is combined into one single one-hour lunch break.)

But if your full-time in-house job actually involves translating and only translating (and not reviewing/revising others' work, doing other administrative tasks, attending meetings, etc.) then I don't know why a daily word quota would not work. Of course, some variation would have to be allowed for documents in which there is a lot of formatting, handwritten texts, or other complications. Surely there will also be days when there is simply little or no work to do.

It seems to me that *not* having some kind of (flexible) daily quota would end up working to your disadvantage (given that this would probably mean that after, say, pounding out 5000 words in six hours, you might then be "rewarded" by being expected to translate another 2000 words to round out your day).

And working day after day under such conditions could well take its toll on one's physical (and mental) health.

[Edited at 2018-01-10 18:04 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 03:47
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Is this useful? Jan 10

https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/comparative-information/national-contributions/sweden/working-time-in-the-european-union-sweden

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:47
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Employment contract? Jan 10

Won't your normal contract cover you when working from your own (home) office, even though you'll have more flexibility regards timing of breaks? Unless there's anything else that differs, I don't see why the time away from their office should be subject to any other contract. After all, many executive-level staff take work home when they're able to anticipate bad weather, transport problems, and any other reasons to work temporarily at home rather than at the office. Will the bosses not trust you to produce the same standard and volume of work when they aren't peering over your shoulder?

 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 04:47
Member (2016)
English to German
Breaks are not part of your working time Jan 10

In most employment contracts I know of, breaks are not part of your working time. That means that you have the right to take a break or two, for example for lunch or breakfast, but the time for these breaks is not counted as working time. If you work eight to five with one hour of breaks in between, this would count as 8 hours of work.

If you work from home, even if in a permanent employment, you can probably define your own working hours and take a break when you need it, as long as you do 8 net hours of work.

Of course the employer will normally not have the chance to check your working hours anyway as long as you don't work in-house.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Quota Jan 10

I don't know anything about US employment law, but quotas wouldn't work in Europe, where you are paid for a number of hours a day, and it's not the employee's responsibility if some tasks take longer to complete per unit than others. At least in some European countries, such quotas could be illegal.

A company can of course define targets in regular employee performance reviews if they like to spend time on that, but a word per time unit target is actually a very poorly defined target. As we all know, some texts can take much longer time per word than others. How about defining a chef's quota as a number of pounds of food and drinks served per hour? He or she would then be penalised for serving low-weight gourmet food instead of stews and liquor instead of beer.

As freelancers we either level it out over time or ask for higher word prices for difficult texts, but in real life it can be difficult to get more than one set price per word accepted by a client. An underperforming employee could in some European countries be laid off, while it would be impossible to use poor performance as a valid excuse for sacking someone in France.

In some countries the lunch break isn't considered a part of the working day, but the employee's private time.

It all depends on employment law and conventions per branch in each country, not to mention traditions and the individual employment contracts, to the extent that they conform to the legislation.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Breaks Jan 10

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

In most employment contracts I know of, breaks are not part of your working time. That means that you have the right to take a break or two, for example for lunch or breakfast, but the time for these breaks is not counted as working time. If you work eight to five with one hour of breaks in between, this would count as 8 hours of work.

If you work from home, even if in a permanent employment, you can probably define your own working hours and take a break when you need it, as long as you do 8 net hours of work.

Of course the employer will normally not have the chance to check your working hours anyway as long as you don't work in-house.


Some breaks are statutory and part of the working time in France. I don't know anything about German employment law, though.

But since this appears to be about Sweden, it doesn't matter what the laws and regulations say in France or Germany.

The difficult thing is that when you work at an office, you usually don't clock out just because you go and fetch a cup and coffee, go to the bathroom or have a brief chat with a colleague. How do you manage this as an employee at home, and how many effective hours does an employee working at an office really produce?


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 04:47
Member (2016)
English to German
Well, coffee and bathroom are working time Jan 10

In my practice, grabbing a cup of coffee or visiting the bathroom does count as working time. But where I worked when I was employed, leaving the building for a smoke required the colleagues to clock out.

This kind of surveillance does not work when working at home, of course. On the other hand, the employer could even ask the employee to use some clocking device at home.

In fact, since I turned to freelance work I also use some sort of "clocking device" for my own work, so that I can see how much time I spend on every translation project (I use "primaerp" for that). Work-at-home employees could be asked to use something like that in order to allot their working time to their projects.


 

Romina Eva Pérez Escorihuela
Argentina
Local time: 23:47
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience as an in-house full-time translator in Argentina Jan 10

Before starting, I must say I could not agree more with:

Robert Forstag wrote:

It seems to me that *not* having some kind of (flexible) daily quota would end up working to your disadvantage (given that this would probably mean that after, say, pounding out 5000 words in six hours, you might then be "rewarded" by being expected to translate another 2000 words to round out your day.

And working day after day under such conditions could well take its toll on one's physical (and mental) health.


and....

Thomas T. Frost wrote:
The difficult thing is that when you work at an office, you usually don't clock out just because you go and fetch a cup and coffee, go to the bathroom or have a brief chat with a colleague.


I started my professional career as a translator working for the Argentina branch of a US major bank institution under the Argentine labour law, which was passed and enacted in the 70s and is, currently, a matter of reform (quite a complex one with heated discussions in Congress and manifestations on the streets).

In Argentina, regular 8-hour shifts run from 9 am to 6 am, or from 8 am to 5 pm, and they include a one-hour lunch break and the law establishes a 15-minute break, which you can take as you wish, any time of the day. Out of the 7,45 hours you are supposed to work, the thing is that, if you smoke, you can always go outside the building (smoking is banned by law in indoor public areas). Of course, you are free to fetch some coffee, phone a relative, have a chat with your office colleagues... this is part of our culture here in Argentina, and you end up working 7 hours. No one would ever question that in our country. We consider this time "ours", as employees.

At the bank, we had a monthly translation goal at the Translation Unit and it implied translating between 5,000 to 7,000 words per translator per day, using a shared Trados TM constantly updated by the three of us. The documents were quite similar every month, they included a common structure and, then, particular information of the client. I worked at the Credit Risk Management Services department (Corporate Bank) translating credit packages information of the multinational companies that requested loans to our bank. That's why we could translate so many words a day (and dedicate another day to perform revision and proofreading activities). And, since our salary was not based on a per-word-fee, we were considered semi-senior executives with a high salary and benefits.

Hope this helps!


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Absolutely Jan 10

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

In my practice, grabbing a cup of coffee or visiting the bathroom does count as working time. But where I worked when I was employed, leaving the building for a smoke required the colleagues to clock out.

This kind of surveillance does not work when working at home, of course. On the other hand, the employer could even ask the employee to use some clocking device at home.

In fact, since I turned to freelance work I also use some sort of "clocking device" for my own work, so that I can see how much time I spend on every translation project (I use "primaerp" for that). Work-at-home employees could be asked to use something like that in order to allot their working time to their projects.


If the work is carried out in CAT tools, the employer already has the possibility of analysing the segment timestamps to check if the employee (or hourly-paid translator reviewing) claims to spend much more time than justified by such timestamps. In the case of translator, the employer would already have a rough idea of how much time should be spent per task.

When I bill by the hour, I don't include any sort of coffee or bathroom breaks (if longer than 2 minutes), by the way, but as an employee it's different.

As for smoking, most freelance translators wouldn't need to leave the building to smoke. They are free to poison themselves while working, subject to objections from other family members, of course.

Interesting that you 'clock'. I do the same. Not just for work, but everything. I just use a spreadsheet with pre-defined values and sub-values possible in each field, and Excel has a function to produce summaries. Once set up, it requires very little time to use. As for work, I measure the time per task and calculate the average hourly revenue.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Let's define breaks Jan 10

StephanieLindq wrote:

I am in the running for a full-time translation job, which means 8 hours of work a day, 5 days a week, sometimes in-house. I need to include some breaks into these 8 hours, so I was wondering what the standard is for the amount of breaks in a full workday. I've always worked on a per-word basis and as long as I've got the work done on time I've managed my own breaks and haven't thought about it much. The company does not have a lot of experience with translators so I need to lead them in the right direction.
Can anyone advise? Thank you!


We could start by defining what a break is for you and what it is for this potential employer.

I suspect we translators tend to think of a break in industrial terms, as a period of time when we are not moving our fingers over a keyboard or looking busy. That's partly our own fault.

Those 15-minute breaks and the 30-minute lunchtime might work in an assembly-line type of work or in a factory, but I'd argue that definition does not apply to most professions. Is a lawyer not working if he's reading details of a case in the newspaper that is not being handled by his firm? Is a chemist not working if he's pacing up and down his lab thinking about an unexpected test result?

The more repetitive a task is in a particular occupation, the conventional break may make more sense: If I'm a seamstress or a shoepolisher, or a cook or a busboy, or a supermarket cashier… I have to perform repetitive tasks, they're central to my job.

On many opportunities, we spend time thinking about a translation solution, not actually writing it down. This is just an example. Our mind is working during that time, not enjoying a break. Of course, project managers, supervisors and other “nontranslators” need to understand this part of the process of translation (translation as process, not product) so misunderstandings and clashes with translators can be avoided.


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:47
Member
English to French
20 minutes every two hours Jan 11

If only to stand up and walk a bit. I can't type for hours in a row without breaks, even without bladder calls.
Make it two hours in an eight-hour day, plus one to two hours for lunch.

You'll live longer.

Philippe


 

Catherine Brix
Local time: 04:47
Swedish to English
+ ...
Do what the others do... Jan 11

Are you being hired as a company employee or have you landed a contract for 40 hours of work a week that sometimes requires you to go into the office? If you are going to be an employee, you do what the other employees at the office do when you are in the office. You join them during coffee breaks and lunch - anything else will appear strange unless you're on a tight deadline. When you are working from home, you need to be available during business hours, 8 to 5. (Unless you will be working in a factory, I think you'll find that the statutory 15-minute coffee break in the morning and afternoon can run considerably longer, as can the 30-minute lunch.)
If you have a contract where you guarantee them 40 hours of work, then it's up to you to decide when you do the work, when you take breaks, etc. They will probably expect to be able to reach you during business hours but when and how you take breaks is up to you.
It is also up to you to set boundaries for when they may contact you when you are working from home. Some private company employees take pride in being on call 24/7 and working late into the night. They love sending emails after 11 pm and can often expect a delivery by 8 am. Again, it is up to you to decide how accommodating you want to be, and business does get hectic and things do get forgotten, and a good team player can take one for the team, but it should be the exception, not the rule.
Good luck!


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:47
French to English
Employment/Labor law Jan 11

If you are to become an employee, then your employer has to apply the law, taking into account any particular collective agreements, etc. that may apply to a particular type of business.
The definition of "break" will also be set out in the labor legislation, rules and regulations.

Without more information about whether this is the case, I don't see what type of advice can really be useful.


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Standard minutes of breaks for an 8-hour day?

Advanced search







CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running and helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search