ON EXTERNAL TRANSLATION
I.1 External translation in its various forms (see chapter
II, "Definitions") is being used more and more by international organizations,
for reasons of economics and technology, as a way to meet their translation
I.2 This overall growth in external translation is reflected
in an increase in the number of AITC members who engage in this sort of working
relationship in one way or another.
I.3 However, no rules governing external translation have
been established under any generally applicable agreement. Because the growth in
external translation has come about only relatively recently, the CCAQ-AITC
Agreement governing short-term in-house employment contains no provisions in
this regard. In 1998, AITC adopted a Code for Contractual Translation as an
adjunct to its Professional Code, setting out a series of professional ethical
principles that its members are bound to uphold. In that Code for Contractual
Translation, organizations have a guarantee of professionalism and quality when
dealing with AITC members. Even though efforts are being made by organizations
to assure appropriate conditions for the exercise of the profession, there is
still a need to standardize concepts and methods applicable to external
translation. This will be of benefit not only to translators but also to the
organizations themselves, as agreement on mutually accepted rules will prevent
misunderstandings and, as in the case of the CCAQ-AITC Agreement, will have a
positive impact on the quality of work.
I.4 This need becomes particularly evident at a time when
long-distance working arrangements are becoming increasingly varied. In pursuing
a policy of rationalizing their use of resources, the various organizations are
spawning new arrangements by combining traditional home translation with various
kinds of framework contracts or other forms of external translation.
I.5 In the absence of an initiative by organizations, AITC
has decided to present its members' concerns and requirements in regard to the
various forms of external translation in the present document, so that it may
serve as a reference text on the subject. All parties involved should benefit
from the implementation of the guidelines set forth herein, which are based on
the views of the professionals represented by the Association. These guidelines
apply not only in respect of translation but also, mutatis mutandis, in respect
of précis-writing and editing.
I.6 Thus, the members of AITC have a new instrument produced
as a result of collective examination of the issue, to use in discussing the
various aspects of external translation and its future with the organizations
concerned and, if possible, in concluding agreements in that regard.
II.1 conference translator – General designation used
to refer to translators, revisers, précis-writers and editors who work for
international conferences or organizations.
II.2 CCAQ-AITC Agreement – Agreement concluded by the
United Nations Consultative Committee on Administrative Questions (whose current
successor is the Chief Executives Board) and AITC concerning conditions of
short-term employment of translators, revisers, editors and précis-writers in
organizations applying the common system. The Agreement does not address
external translation, but is applicable mutatis mutandis to off-site
II.3 professional domicile – Place for which the
translator considers himself to be local for purposes of being hired under the
CCAQ-AITC Agreement; it need not be the same as the translator's usual place of
residence. In accordance with the Agreement and the AITC Professional Code, a
translator may have only one professional domicile and it may be changed at
intervals of not less than one year.
II.4 category – The classification of a translator
based upon his experience, for purposes of being hired under the CCAQ-AITC
II.5 in-house contract – A short-term work contract
subject to the applicable staff rules and pursuant to the CCAQ-AITC Agreement,
under which the translator works in an organization's offices or at a conference
II.6 telecommuting – A working arrangement in which a
permanent or temporary in-house translator performs his duties at a location of
his own choosing, away from the usual premises provided by his employer. Such an
arrangement may be occasional or ongoing.
II.7 remote translation – A working arrangement in
which an organization provides translation services for a conference from its
regular offices without translation staff having to travel to the conference
II.8 external translation – The rendering of
translation services at a location chosen by the translator away from the usual
premises of the contracting organization or a conference venue. It may take a
variety of forms, such as contractual translation, translation under a framework
contract, or off-site translation.
II.9 contractual translation – External translation
work to be completed by an agreed deadline and paid on the basis of the number
of words. Synonym: home translation
II.10 framework contract – A contract between an
organization and a translator under which the translator commits himself to
translate on an external basis a certain agreed number of words during a given
period, for which he will be paid a fixed remuneration even if the expected
translation demand should fail to materialize, on the grounds that the
translator is guaranteeing his availability to accept the work. Beyond that
number of words, any additional material that the organization offers to the
translator and that the translator agrees to translate is paid as an additional
amount, at the rate stipulated by mutual agreement for that purpose. The
contract may include a period of in-house work and may entitle the translator to
certain benefits enjoyed by permanent staff over the entire duration of the
contract. Synonyms: umbrella contract, retainer contract; may be subsumed under
the general rubric special services contract.
II.11 off-site contract – A short-term work contract
under which the translator works according to an agreed schedule at a location
other than an organization's offices or a conference venue, and pursuant mutatis
mutandis to the provisions of the CCAQ-AITC Agreement.
III. RECRUITMENT OF EXTERNAL TRANSLATORS
III.1 External translation should be seen as an extension of
the organization's regular in-house translation service. In opting to use
external translators, an organization should apply the same quality standards as
for in-house work, and not base its decision solely on criteria of cost or work
flexibility. If an external translator's work is revised, he should be given
back the revised translation, accompanied by comments if possible. In any event,
an organization that uses external translators should offer them the opportunity
to work on in-house contracts as well.
III.2 The organizations' translation services draw up and
maintain their rosters of external translators on the basis of their
requirements as to quality, reliability and experience. Without prejudice to
their right to select their external translators as they see fit, it would be
desirable for them to establish certain practices to facilitate relations
between recruiters and translators, and provide better guidance to recruiters
seeking translators and to translators seeking work.
III.3 Translation agencies should not be used except in
special circumstances (e.g., a situation in which it is impossible for the
organization to know of translators in particular countries or for particular
languages, or to make contact with them directly). Moreover, beyond the fact
that the use of agencies has not been demonstrated to offer economic benefits,
this practice prevents the organization from overseeing the translators' work
directly and deprives the translators of essential contacts with the terminology
service and other services of the contracting organization. For the same
reasons, given that translators are personally responsible for the work they
accept, they should undertake not to subcontract it without the express approval
of the contracting organization.
III.4 External translation work should not be assigned
through competitive bidding to the translator who offers the lowest price, as
this offers the organization no guarantee of quality and fosters unfair
III.5 To help external translators maintain their familiarity
with the working tools, procedures and terminology of the organizations for
which they work, the organizations should from time to time offer short-term
in-house contracts to those external translators that work regularly for them
and are willing to accept them.
III.6 The volume of work done under external translation
contracts, converted into an equivalent number of days on the basis of the
organizations' daily output standard, should be recognized as part of the
translator's required experience for purposes of reclassification under the
IV. WORKING CONDITIONS
IV.1 Organizations should ensure that the texts of which they
request a translation are legible and grammatically correct. So far as possible,
documents to be translated should have been subject to prior editing.
Handwritten or hand-corrected texts should be avoided. In any event, it is
useful to designate the author or some other responsible individual as a contact
person with whom any doubts, ambiguities or discrepancies in the original text
can be clarified.
IV.2 Every text to be translated should be accompanied by the
necessary references or, alternatively, by links to sources where those
references can easily be obtained. The organization's glossaries should be made
available to translators in electronic form, together with any other translation
aids it may have developed. In general, the organization should ensure that the
translator has unrestricted access to its terminology and documentation
databases and any updates to them.
IV.3 External translators should be furnished with the same
technical facilities as those provided for work in house, subject to any legal
restrictions relating to the safeguarding of intellectual property. If the
organization possesses tools and software that are in the public domain and
which have been prepared to assist the work of translators, it should make the
same available to its external translators as well, in so far as possible.
Similarly, external translators should be able to seek help from the
organization's technical assistance service in order to resolve any software
application problems arising in connection with the work they have been
IV.4 When a lengthy document is split among several
translators, each translator should be informed of who the others are so that
they can all consult with one another to share terminology resources and
IV.5 The work of external translators should be seen as an
integral part of the production process in the translation services concerned.
Consequently, conditions should be created to foster a long-distance working
relationship between external translators and their in-house colleagues, for
purposes of making consultations and contributing to terminology files. A useful
way to do this is by opening internal electronic discussion forums to
participation by external translators who work regularly for the organization.
V.1 The remuneration paid for external translation should be
comparable to that paid for in-house contracts. Where fixed remuneration is paid
(as in the case of framework contracts or off-site contracts), the translator's
salary should be based on his category for in-house contracts pursuant to the
CCAQ-AITC Agreement. If the translator is paid according to the amount of text
translated, the rate should be based on the ratio of the gross salary payable to
a local translator in a mid-level category to the daily workload standard,
expressed in countable units of original text (such as words or thousands of
words). For translation between languages that do not have comparable
structures, other arrangements are also possible provided that they yield
V.2 In determining an external translator's remuneration, an
organization may take into account such factors as whether the translation will
need to be revised, whether the translation must be delivered in electronic form
and camera-ready, the level of difficulty, and the urgency of the work. Apart
from these factors, however, remuneration must not be subject to discrimination
of any kind.
V.3 If an organization requires any work to be completed in a
shorter period of time than the number of working days determined by dividing
the length of the text by the organization's daily workload standard, not
including days of rest or legal holidays recognized by the organization, such
work is considered urgent and is to be paid at a higher rate.
V.4 The remuneration paid should also take into account the
expenses incurred in performing the work, particularly for facilities and
equipment, as well as related communications costs.
V.5 Organizations should ensure that translators are paid as
quickly as possible, and in any event within 90 days.
VI. SPECIFIC WORKING ARRANGEMENTS
(a) Contractual translation
VI(a)1 In the case of contractual translation, the working
relationship between the organization and the translator should be formalized by
means of a contract in due and proper form. The contract must be signed by both
parties, in so far as possible well before the date on which work is to begin.
Alternatively, and pending the execution of the formal contract, the principal
terms of the contract should be clearly set forth in a prior exchange of
messages sent electronically or by other means.
VI(a)2 The contract should stipulate, in particular, the
number of words of source-language text to be translated, the applicable rate,
and the delivery deadline, together with layout requirements.
VI(a)3 Without prejudice to the foregoing recommendations,
the parties may conclude a contract for ongoing services. When such a contract
is in place, it is sufficient to prepare a job sheet for each translation
stating the number of words, the rate, and the delivery deadline.
(b) Framework contract
VI(b)1 A framework contract, of which there are various
kinds, should be concluded, or at least have its terms agreed upon, well in
advance. Among the provisions that should be included are the period of
employment, including in-house employment if applicable, the remuneration, and
the minimum number of words to be translated during periods of external work.
(c) Off-site contract
VI(c)1 An off-site contract should be modelled on the
standard in-house contract and should abide mutatis mutandis by the provisions
of the CCAQ-AITC Agreement. VI(c)2 The translator's full salary should be exempt
from national income tax in the same way as the salaries paid to permanent staff
translators and freelance translators working on short-term in-house contracts.
At the translator's request, the organization should provide the same
certificate of tax exemption that it currently provides for the other staff
mentioned, or reimburse any national income tax the translator may be required
VI(c)3 The core hours during which the translator undertakes
to be available to the translation service for any unscheduled contact should be
fixed by common agreement, taking into account the time zone in which the
translator is working.
VI(c)4 Provision should be made to foster ongoing contact
between translators working under off-site contracts and the translation service
for which they work, as well as to ensure that they have access to the same
terminological resources available to their other colleagues and the remote
technical assistance provided by the organization's telematics services as
regards access to the organization's documents. Particularly during meetings,
all translators concerned should have the opportunity to consult with one other,
in order to resolve speedily any problems that may arise and to standardize the
terminology and style used in documents.
VII.1 AITC believes that all parties concerned will benefit
from the application of common rules for external translation services, based on
the recommendations presented above or other provisions agreed jointly between
translators and employers. Accordingly, AITC should be recognized as having the
authority, on behalf of its members, to negotiate draft agreements applicable to
all translators with any organizations wishing to conclude the same.
VII.2 These guidelines may be amended, amplified or rescinded
at any time as developments in the area of external translation warrant.