In one of our previous blog posts, we explained what the Dynamex ruling might mean for Language Service Providers. Well, it does not look like matters are heading in the right direction. Recently, a bill was passed in the California Legislative Assembly that would reclassify all translators and interpreters in California as employees of their clients. Interpreters and translators typically work for many different clients as independent contractors, so this bill could have disastrous consequences. Not only would it place additional financial and administrative burdens on translators and interpreters, it would make it harder for language service providers to hire them, putting a serious strain on the translation and interpreting industry in California.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the sponsor of the bill, wants to prevent large corporations from taking advantage of their employees by hiring them as independent contractors. Hiring independent contractors is significantly cheaper as it exonerates employers from having to pay worker benefits. Although this bill would offer much needed protection in some cases, it would do the opposite for interpreters and translators.
Interpreters and translators work as independent contractors because they typically work for many different clients, often for very short periods of time. Given the complex and varied nature of many interpreter assignments, it is highly complicated to make a living working for just one language service provider. If the bill passes and does not exempt interpreters, it would force them to act as corporations, which would entail considerable financial, administrative and reporting duties, severely limiting their income. For language service providers, the bill would make it too expensive to hire interpreters for rare assignments. The negative outcome here would be twofold: less business for LSPs and interpreters, and a less inclusive language policy in courts, hospitals and social services.
The bill already exempts doctors, lawyers, architects, accountants, engineers, insurance agents, real estate agents, hair stylists as well as marketeers and HR professionals with advanced degrees. However, interpreters and translators are NOT included in this list. If the bill is passed by the senate and signed by the governor, and if interpreters and translators are not exempt from the bill, then it will put the livelihood of thousands of interpreters and translators in jeopardy, not to mention the livelihood of California LSPs. Moreover, California is a legislative trendsetter in the United States, so if the bill goes through, it does not bode well for the interpreters and translators in the rest of the country.
If you are a translator or interpreter, we urge you to sign this open letter to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez explaining why language professionals should be exempt from the bill.