Can I reject a translation agency assignment (or am I obligated to take it if I signed a contract)?
Thread poster: EagleTransl

EagleTransl
United States
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 1

I sent my cv to many translation agencies, and some of them have contacted me. So far, I have signed a contract with three of them. It is my understanding that as a freelancer we can work for multiple agencies.

Here's my question: suppose one day I'm working on an assignment for translation company 1, and suddenly translation company 2 requests an assignment at the same time (which I can't do because I'd be working on the other one), do I have the right to reject that assignment fro
... See more
I sent my cv to many translation agencies, and some of them have contacted me. So far, I have signed a contract with three of them. It is my understanding that as a freelancer we can work for multiple agencies.

Here's my question: suppose one day I'm working on an assignment for translation company 1, and suddenly translation company 2 requests an assignment at the same time (which I can't do because I'd be working on the other one), do I have the right to reject that assignment from company 2? Or am I obligated to take assignment 2 because I signed an agreement? (The agreements did not mention my right to accept or reject jobs).

Today I was contacted by another agency, and that started me thinking. I don't know how often agencies would give me assignments, so I don't know if signing with 3 agencies is enough, too little or too much. Could you also share your views as to working for how many agencies would be reasonable?

Thank you
Collapse


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:39
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
FREElancer Aug 1

As a FREElancer you are free to accept or reject projects as you see fit.

That you have signed contracts with three agencies only means that you and they are willing to cooperate in the future. It doesn't mean that you must accept every job they might send you. Sometimes you are just too busy to accept a new project without risking not to meet the delivery deadline.

Be assured, they collaborate with other translators as well....
See more
As a FREElancer you are free to accept or reject projects as you see fit.

That you have signed contracts with three agencies only means that you and they are willing to cooperate in the future. It doesn't mean that you must accept every job they might send you. Sometimes you are just too busy to accept a new project without risking not to meet the delivery deadline.

Be assured, they collaborate with other translators as well.
Collapse


Kevin Fulton
Joe France
Michele Fauble
Laetitia Amany
Philip Lees
Sheila Wilson
Teresa Borges
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Eagle Aug 1

EagleTransl wrote:
It is my understanding that as a freelancer we can work for multiple agencies.


No, that is not what "freelancer" means. Being a freelancer does not [only] mean that you are allowed to work for more than one client, but that you are allowed to accept (or reject!) any job offer (and by "job" I mean a translation project, which can be long or short). It also means that you are not required to have any specific "valid" reason to be able to reject any job offer.

Of course, you would try not to reject job offers for "frivolous" reasons because that might upset the client, and then he might pass you over for the next available job. But being a freelancer means that you are free to say "I'm not available for this job".

I don't know how often agencies would give me assignments, so I don't know if signing with 3 agencies is enough, too little or too much.


Sign up with as many as possible. Then, if they approach you and you can't (or don't want to) do the job that they're offering, simply say "no" (in a friendly kind of way). 3 is not enough. You need at least 50 agencies to say "maybe we'll use you".

Also, note that not all agencies that send you work ask you to sign a contract. Some agencies just assume that you both agree on what is fair and what is unfair, without having to sign a formal agreement.


Joshua Parker
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
Oleksandr Ivanov
Philip Lees
Sheila Wilson
Teresa Borges
Christophe Delaunay
 

GARIAS  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:39
Member (Jul 2019)
English to Spanish
+ ...
IT DEPENDS ON THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT. Aug 2

I agree with the two previous answers. However, although not usual , you might sign an exclusivity agreement or agree with certain terms to reject a project just under certain circumstances or within a deadline... The agreements, once signed , are binding contracts and therefore it is important to read it carefully and fully understand what we are committed to. Nevertheless, I repeat, this is not usual but in theory it is this way.

 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 06:39
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
yes Aug 2

EagleTransl wrote:

I sent my cv to many translation agencies, and some of them have contacted me. So far, I have signed a contract with three of them. It is my understanding that as a freelancer we can work for multiple agencies.

Here's my question: suppose one day I'm working on an assignment for translation company 1, and suddenly translation company 2 requests an assignment at the same time (which I can't do because I'd be working on the other one), do I have the right to reject that assignment from company 2? Or am I obligated to take assignment 2 because I signed an agreement? (The agreements did not mention my right to accept or reject jobs).

Today I was contacted by another agency, and that started me thinking. I don't know how often agencies would give me assignments, so I don't know if signing with 3 agencies is enough, too little or too much. Could you also share your views as to working for how many agencies would be reasonable?

Thank you


You can refuse the project if you don't feel able to complete it by the agency's proposed deadline, regardless of whether that's because the deadline is simply unrealistic ("can you translate this 10,000 word document by tomorrow morning?"), or whether you already have plans for that time slot (be they other translations or personal plans). It is often worth telling the agency when you could complete the project by ("I can't work on this today, but I could do it by Friday if that would be any good... ?"); if the deadline is flexible they may still send you the work.

You can also refuse the project if you don't feel able to do a good job on it -- it doesn't match your field of expertise or you don't feel comfortable with the content for any reason.

You can weigh this against the consideration that:
Each time you refuse a project, the agency will have to find another translator to take it on. The next time they have a project in that series (e.g. from the same client), they may well go to the other translator first.
In general, if you say "no" a lot, the agency may start to feel that they are wasting a lot of time contacting you and waiting for a reply, only to then have to move on to another translator. They will start to contact other translators first.

How many agencies is enough? How long is a piece of string? If you find you have free time, you can use it to look for more work...


Sheila Wilson
Liviu-Lee Roth
Thayenga
Philip Lees
Vera Schoen
Vladimir Filipenko
IanDhu
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:39
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The contract only covers services you actually provide - not every job they offer you Aug 2

EagleTransl wrote:
suppose one day I'm working on an assignment for translation company 1, and suddenly translation company 2 requests an assignment at the same time (which I can't do because I'd be working on the other one), do I have the right to reject that assignment from company 2? Or am I obligated to take assignment 2 because I signed an agreement?

The agreements you've signed only pertain to each accepted job that you do for the agency. You haven't signed an employment contract. If they want you to accept every job they send you, they'd need to pay some sort of retainer to be sure that you'll always have some time available for them. In many countries (excluding the US, I think), it's actually illegal for a company to use the full-time services of a freelancer (don't worry though, the freelancer isn't normally found to be acting illegally). The reason this is frowned on is that the company should be providing an employment contract that provides for sickness, holiday and redundancy payments (as well as paying more in social contributions to the state - which is probably the main reason for the law). A freelancer's client has every right to pay for the jobs done and disappear. They owe us nothing apart from the agreed terms.

Today I was contacted by another agency, and that started me thinking. I don't know how often agencies would give me assignments, so I don't know if signing with 3 agencies is enough, too little or too much. Could you also share your views as to working for how many agencies would be reasonable?

As others have said, that's a very difficult question to answer. May times, you'll sign contracts, do tests, etc., and never hear from them again. Or you may hear in a year or two -- often on a Friday afternoon, a public holiday, during July-August, or over the turn of the year. Do one job for them and get a repeat job, and you might then get onto their "preferred vendors" list. Then you could get a lot of work. But refuse one job too many and you could get sidelined again. Anyway, agencies are terribly fickle and often disappear from your inbox for no apparent reason. Hence, you can never have too many! Prioritise the better ones (whatever constitutes "better" in your book).


Esther Pugh
Kevin Fulton
Philip Lees
Vera Schoen
Christine Andersen
Yuemin Chen
 

EagleTransl
United States
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Aug 2

Thank you all for taking the time to read my question and write your answers.
You have helped me so much!


 

Mihai Badea (X)
Luxembourg
Local time: 06:39
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Negotiating Aug 3

One thing you can do when already overwhelmed with translations is to try to negotiate an extended deadline for the new job.

In the longer term, you can involve trusted colleagues in your projects. Doing so would not be unethical if your client agrees to it.

Ultimately, you can change your legal status and become an agency. This should not prevent you from translating documents yourself.

Good luck!


 

Sarah Lewis-Morgan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:39
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Do not get tied to just one source of work... Aug 3

It is always best to have as many strings as possible to your bow; it allows you the scope to pick and choose, but it does mean that you have to say no sometimes. I do regular work for some clients and less regular for others, but if one of the less regular ones comes up with an interesting job that pays well then I will take it if at all possible. This might mean saying no to more regular clients who supply my perhaps less interesting but nonetheless valuable bread-and-butter work, but if they ... See more
It is always best to have as many strings as possible to your bow; it allows you the scope to pick and choose, but it does mean that you have to say no sometimes. I do regular work for some clients and less regular for others, but if one of the less regular ones comes up with an interesting job that pays well then I will take it if at all possible. This might mean saying no to more regular clients who supply my perhaps less interesting but nonetheless valuable bread-and-butter work, but if they value you they will either renegotiate deadlines with you or, if that is not possible, they will come back to you when you are free. Being honest and telling clients that you are busy at the moment but will be happy to help at a later date does no harm. As others have said, being a freelancer means that the choice of work you take is yours alone and you are not forced to take work just because you have signed a contract that does not tie you to specific work.Collapse


IanDhu
Christine Andersen
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:39
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Or... Aug 3

Mihai Badea wrote:
One thing you can do when already overwhelmed with translations is to try to negotiate an extended deadline for the new job.

If you can physically find enough hours to do the job, but you'd really like to have a reasonable work--life balance, then there's another option. You can tell your client that you'll take the job but you'll have to impose a surcharge. I tell clients it's for one of various reasons, and so the percentage varies from 25-100%. It's for giving the job priority over others (maybe needing their deadlines to be renegotiated), cutting short or even missing out lunch and coffee breaks, working late into the evening, working weekends, public holidays, etc.

I tend to waive it if a good client needs an urgent job and I do have time, but impose it if the deadline is fairly normal but I happen to be booked solid.


Mihai Badea (X)
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:39
French to English
Exclusivity agreements with agencies Aug 3

GARIAS wrote:

... you might sign an exclusivity agreement...


if you are working for one agency full-time with a contract for exclusivity, that is not freelancing, it means you are to all legal intents and purposes an employee of the agency...without any of the protection a salaried worker has. To be avoided. Illegal in France. This does not mean that for a certain period of time, you might not find yourself working for one client almost exclusively for a long period of time. That is not an ideal situation in any event as you place yourself in a highly vulnerable position.


DZiW
Sheila Wilson
IanDhu
Michele Fauble
Kay Denney
Oleksandr Ivanov
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:39
German to English
+ ...
instead of negotiating Aug 6

Mihai Badea wrote:

One thing you can do when already overwhelmed with translations is to try to negotiate an extended deadline for the new job.

When you receive a translation request, you should examine the document and determine how long it will take to do. Add some extra time as a safety factor. If other translation requests come in, you consider the work you are already doing, and again calculate what you can have done when, before telling this client by what date you can have their translation done. Remember to factor in time for yourself, for your health and well-being.

I don't think we need to negotiate: but rather, state by when we can accomplish a task, and then try to exceed expectations.


Stephanie Busch
 

Nikolay Novitskiy  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:39
Member (2018)
English to Russian
+ ...
Read your contract carefully Aug 6

Some contracts say that you must compensate them lost profits in case you don't answer their assignment. "To answer" means either to accept or to reject it. When it comes to rejection, things also depend on the contract you signed.

In some cases you can't simply reject the assiggnment, because "you are not available". You should offer them your reasonable terms concerning deadline, rate, etc.


 

Mihai Badea (X)
Luxembourg
Local time: 06:39
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Negotiating is difficult, but it can be rewarding Aug 6

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

Mihai Badea wrote:

One thing you can do when already overwhelmed with translations is to try to negotiate an extended deadline for the new job.

When you receive a translation request, you should examine the document and determine how long it will take to do. Add some extra time as a safety factor. If other translation requests come in, you consider the work you are already doing, and again calculate what you can have done when, before telling this client by what date you can have their translation done. Remember to factor in time for yourself, for your health and well-being.

I don't think we need to negotiate: but rather, state by when we can accomplish a task, and then try to exceed expectations.


I think Sheila's suggestion makes sense, too. Work for freelancers is rarely regular. Some very busy periods may be followed by very quiet ones. Extending your working time - for a limited time - and offering yourself an additional incentive (the surcharge) can be an option if you know what you are doing.


 


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


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

Can I reject a translation agency assignment (or am I obligated to take it if I signed a contract)?

Advanced search







Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



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