I’m a newer interpreter so I’m not sure what to do. I had an agency assignment at a doctor’s office. After the appointment was over I was walking out and the doctor approached me in the hall and asked me what my rates were and asked for my business card. He said that he thought I did a good job and was interested in hiring me directly for his Deaf patients since the agency charges him so much. His office sees several Deaf patients a month and he wanted to try and reduce his costs but still provide an interpreter. I like medical interpreting and rarely do assignments for the agency that I was sent there by anyway, can I just go ahead and work for this doctor directly since I’m not an employee of that agency and can contract with whomever I want?
-On the Fence in Fontana
Dear On the Fence,
While it may be tempting to accept the offer of work directly from the doctor, it would be completely unprofessional to circumvent the agency that sent you to that assignment in the first place and take future business away from them.
Over time, you will be approached with many offers of interpreting work. If you are offered work while representing an agency or by someone you know to be a customer of that agency, be prepared to explain why you are unavailable to work directly for that customer/client. Most people responsible for hiring interpreters don’t know much about business practices of the interpreting profession and are just looking for the cheapest way to hire an interpreter.
Keep in mind that contracts between interpreting agencies and interpreters typically include language that prohibits the interpreter from soliciting or performing work directly for a customer of the agency (and for a specific length of time after the interpreter ceases working for that agency). So by breaking your agreement and accepting an assignment with a customer of the agency, you should expect not to work for that agency again. Interpreting agencies would have a difficult time staying in business if interpreters regularly took business away from them. So even if you think you can take that job and no one will know otherwise, just remember, it’s important to do the right thing even when no one’s looking.
There’s a client that I’ve interpreted for a few times over the past year. Honestly, I just don’t like this person. The client is rude to the people she interacts with and I dread interpreting for her. I know I’m just supposed to interpret and not take anything personally but I always leave these assignments feeling blech! Is there anything I can do?
-Cringing in Claremont
As an independent contractor, you have the right to decline work for any reason you choose. If there is a client you do not wish to provide services to, simply inform the agency(ies) that you do not wish to receive any queries for jobs involving that specific client.