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The Association of Translation Companies and adheres to its strict
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Code of Ethics & Good Practice
You are on our Code of Ethics and Good practice page

FOR FREELANCE INTERPRETERS & TRANSLATORS

Updated March 2012

This Code of Ethics and Good Practice is additional to the codes of professional conduct of the Institute of Linguists and of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

Code of Ethics

Observing the Code of Ethics forms part of the Terms and Conditions of registration as a freelance interpreter or translator with WR Linguistics.  The interpreter or translator must ensure they abide by the Code of Ethics as outlined in this section.

The interpreter or translator must:

Be punctual 

Interpreters must ensure that they are punctual for appointments.
  • Translators and Interpreters must keep to all work deadlines
  •  If you are delayed or unable to attend, you should inform all parties immediately.
  • You should aim to arrive 15 minutes before the appointment time. 

Respect confidentiality
The interpreter or translator must respect the confidentiality of our clients’ information.

Be impartial
The interpreter or translator must maintain impartiality at all times.

Refuse unofficial payment
The interpreter or translator must NOT accept any form of payment or other reward for interpreting / translating work other than the session fee.  

Declare possible conflicts of interest

  • The interpreter or translator must declare when assignments involve close relatives or friends to WR Linguistics, in case there is a conflict of interests.
  • This must be declared to WR Linguistics for a decision to be taken as to whether the interpreter or translator should undertake the assignment.  

Be respectful and non-judgmental  
The interpreter or translator must be respectful and non-judgmental of the client.  
 
Be non-discriminatory
The interpreter or translator must NOT discriminate directly or indirectly on grounds of class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, national origin, political or religious beliefs, disability, marital status, having dependents or not, or age.  

NOT delegate work
The interpreter or translator must NOT delegate work they have accepted without the consent of their WR Linguistics manager, nor canl they accept delegated work without the Manager’s consent. 

Professional conduct
Interpreters and translators are expected to present and conduct themselves in a professional manner.

Recognise professional limitations

Interpreters and translators must recognise professional limitation and: 
  • Only work in the language(s) in which you informed WR Linguistics of your competence.
  • Only undertake work that you are competent to accomplish in a satisfactory way.

Confidentiality 
Clients need to have trust and confidence in the interpreter, the translator, and WR Linguistics, and be reassured that total discretion will be observed.  
The interpreter or translator must observe and maintain the principles of confidentiality at all times in order to achieve this.   

  • Interpreters and translators must not take personal advantage of any information obtained during the course of their work.  
  • Under normal circumstances NO information should be passed by the interpreter or translator to anyone outside of work.  

Special circumstances:                  

  • In special circumstances the interpreter or translator will be required to consult with WR Linguistics on matters which have arisen in, or about, the work and which may necessitate further action or advice.
  • If you have any doubts please consult with your manager.

 
 Forms and other information:

  • Forms and other information sheets carried by the interpreter or translator, which contain confidential information, must be kept in a safe place and transported securely.
  • They must not be shown to anyone else except relevant parties involved in the appointment.
  • No personal information should be faxed.

   
 Interpreter or translator’s rights

The interpreter or translator may refuse or terminate an assignment when: 
  • She or he feels that the subject is beyond her or his capabilities (interpreter / translator).
  • She or he is subject to unacceptable demands or behaviour from clients (interpreter).
  • When there is a serious incident of racial abuse or other discrimination (interpreter).

The interpreter or translator has the right;

  • To be treated and respected as a professional.
  • To be paid.  
  • To ask for sufficient time to carry out their required duties before, during, and after the interview .

Good Practice Guidelines (I)

The stages of the interpreting / translation Assignments 
 

  1. Before accepting the session
  2. Preparation before the session
  3. The Pre Interview
  4. The beginning of the session
  5. The interpreting session
  6. After the session

1. Before accepting the session / assignment

WR Linguistics will provide the interpreter or translator with the following information:  

  • Service provider details: the name of the contact setting up the appointment and their contact number. The name and role of the parties who will be involved in the appointment.
  • Client details:  The name and gender of the client, their language and dialect, and their contact number (where appropriate).
  • Work deadline and format (for translators only).
  • Appointment logistics: The date, time, estimated duration of appointment and the precise location of appointment.
  • Appointment content:  You will be given information on the general nature and context of the appointment.
  • Pre-interview: You will be told if the client has requested a pre-interview.

Additional information: You will also be advised, where known, if:

  • Terminology used is likely to be highly specialised or technical.
  • The appointment is to take place in a specialised environment.

Consideration before accepting the session / assignment:

Before accepting any offer of work the interpreter or translator must consider the following: 
 

  • Availability (interpreters): date, time, place and travel arrangements
  • Deadlines and format (translators): maintain all deadlines and complete work on the required format.
  • Correct match: Is there a suitable match in terms of language, dialect, gender or other factors?
  • Conflict of interest: is the client a close relative or friend?
  • Professional limitation: Is the subject matter of a complicated or specialised nature that goes beyond training or experience? 

2.   Preparation for the session 

In preparation for the session the interpreter or translator should: 

  • Contact the client (where appropriate): If requested contact the client by telephone to make sure she or he is aware of the appointment date, time and location. You will be told if it is inappropriate to do so. In addition you will be told if it is inappropriate to leave a message rather than speaking to them directly.
  • Research: Undertake research needed to familiarise yourself with the specific subject matter, including relevant vocabulary.
  • Locate venue: Make sure you are familiar with the venue and how to get there. If the venue is the client’s home you need to take into account health and safety issues and may wish to arrange to meet the practitioner outside or nearby.
  • Paperwork: You should fill in the appointment details on the payment form, interpreter monitoring form and client monitoring form.

3.  The Pre Interview 

3.1 When a Pre-interview with the Client will be held

Before the appointment there may be an opportunity to be briefed on the history of the case by the client. The client may request this or you can request it. There will not always be a pre-interview.  A pre-interview is more likely in relation to a specialist appointment. For example: cases around technical and international negotiation roles.

3.2 What to Discuss in the Pre-interview with the client 

Information improves meaningful interpreting. The Pre-interview should be used to: 

  • Clarify terminology and procedures.
  • Discuss contextual factual information about the case. 
  • Set the aim of the present consultation.
  • Discuss interpreting methods required.
  • Discuss any previous incidents when the client has not understood cultural implications.
  • Discuss any challenging behaviour that may occur and how the interpreter or translator might respond.
  •  You should only accept factual information and must not be influenced by the client’s perceptions as they may affect your impartiality.

3.3   Discussing cultural information:

Some clients request ‘cultural information.  This can help by giving factual information to facilitate understanding.  Clients are encouraged to use the interpreter or translators’ knowledge on such issues.
  
3.4   Having a pre-interview with client 

On some occasions the interpreter or translator may also meet the client before the session and have a pre interview. This tends to take place when the interpreter or translator meets the client in a waiting area before the appointment.

3.5   What to discuss in a pre-interview with client 

Pre-interviews with the client can be useful to establish the client’s expectations and level of interpreting support needed. A pre-Interview with a client can be used to:  

  • Formally introduce yourself to the client.
  • Assess the client’s knowledge of English.
  • Assess as far as possible their familiarity with the particular service area they are using.
  • Obtain a brief history of the current service.
  • Obtain the background to any problems that the client has encountered prior to contact with the interpreter or translator.

3.6 In the event of a pre-interview with the client’s client

You should inform the client at the beginning of the session that you have already formally introduced yourself to his/her client and the details of this (for details see 3.5).
  

4.   The Beginning of the session 

4.1   On arrival  

  • The interpreter or translator should inform the relevant reception staff of their arrival and of the client’s arrival if they are aware of this.
  • Interpreters should show and display their Interpreter Identification on arrival and during the assignment. 
  • Health and Safety: you need to take your own health and safety into account for all appointments. 
  • Introductions to the Client.
  • Interpreters should formally introduce themselves to the client and include the following:
    • Your name and role: State you are an interpreter and explain the role of the interpreter or translator if needed.
    • Who you work for: Explain that you are working for WR Linguistics. 
  • State the service is confidential and if needed explain that:
    • Everything will be interpreted: Explain that ‘everything you say will be interpreted. If there is anything you don’t want to tell the [Client], please do not tell me either because I will have to interpret exactly what you say. '
    • Obtain Consent: Ask permission to interpret. For example: ‘You have the right to choose your interpreter. If for some reason you don’t want me to be your interpreter, please let me know and we will try and arrange another interpreter for you. Is it alright for me to interpret for you today?'

4.2 Mobile Phones

The interpreter or translator should ensure their mobile phone is switched off for the duration of the interview. 

4.3 Seating

The usual arrangement is a triangular formation: 
      Client <>interpreter <> client 
This allows you to clearly communicate with the clients and increases the client’s confidence. 

5. The Interpreting Session

5.1 Style of Speech

  • Direct Speech: the first person. In most circumstances the interpreter or translator should use the first person (direct speech). (that is “I would like to thank you for this meeting” not “He says he would like to thank you for this meeting”)
  • Indirect Speech: the third person. In circumstances when speech is particularly emotional or if otherwise directed by the client the interpreter or translator may need to use the third person.

 
5.2 Repeating back and intervention

Interpreters can ensure understanding has taken place by asking either party to repeat back. 

Interpreters can intervene during the interpreting session for several reasons including the following:  

  • Clarification: To ask for clarification if she or he has not fully understood the concept she/he is being asked to interpret.
  • Misunderstanding: To point out that the client has not understood the message although the interpreter or translator was correct.
  • Missed Inference: To alert either party to a statement that may infer a different meaning to its original intended meaning, or something that has been inferred but not stated and knowledge of which may have been assumed. Example: A GP may offer a hospital referral to a patient for minor surgery. The patient may be resistant as they are not sure if they can afford to pay for this yet may not say so from embarrassment.  The GP may have assumed that the patient is aware such treatment is free. An Interpreter could prompt this by stating there may be confusion over the issue and asking for clarification.   

You must always inform BOTH PARTIES of the reason for the intervention.

 
6.  After the session

6.1 At the end of the session

At the end of the session it is important to:   

  • Make sure that both parties are satisfied and that the subject has been fully covered. 
  • Invoicing: Completing the Invoice
    • You should fill in the details of the session on the invoice template (this is best done before the session)
    • Get the Client to sign and put the end time on the invoice.
    • When this has been signed by the authorised signatory you should leave a copy with the client, keep a copy for your record and send the original to WR Linguistics for payment.
  • Clarify Interpreter booking for future appointments:
  • If the practitioner refers or makes a follow up appointment for the client you must remind them they will need to book the interpreting through WR Linguistics. You can also remind them that they can request the same interpreter

6.2   Post Session and Post Interview

  • Post Interview with the Client: The Client may wish for a post interview to clarify aspects of understanding, however, the interpreter or translator should not discuss opinions of the client.
  • Conclusion of the Session: When the Session is over the interpreter or translator is a private citizen. However we recommend that you should be aware that staying with the client may lead to requests for voluntary advice and support work that can put you in a difficult position.

Good Practice Guidelines II: Further Guidance

1. Introduction 

  • These guidelines on sensitivity, impartiality and advocacy, and special situations are, as the name suggests, only guidelines.
  • Therefore you will find that during the interpreting session there will be circumstances when the best course of action is not obvious.
  • In these situations you are encouraged to inform the practitioner and seek advice from your WR Linguistics manager.
2. Content

2.1 Impartiality and Advocacy

Do NOT Speak for the client

The interpreter should resist any temptation to speak for the client, or plead their case. This does not prevent the interpreter or translator reminding clients of their rights or questions they wanted to ask. 

Clarify Words and Terminology

The interpreter or translator must make every attempt to clarify the meanings of words or terminology used by the clients when these are unfamiliar, or where exact equivalents are not available. (It is always safer to acknowledge ignorance.)  

Subconscious Messages

Information may be conveyed to the interpreter or translator by way of indirect, discrete, unconscious or unclear messages and disclosures (either verbally or non-verbally) by the clients. In this case the interpreter or translator should confirm whether this is to be conveyed. This can be achieved through asking for clarification. 

Do NOT set yourself up as a cultural expert

The interpreter or translator must be sensitive to the possibility of ‘setting herself or himself up’ as a cultural expert. When the client shows curiosity or surprise on a specific matter the interpreter or translator may inform her or him of systems within the client’s culture that underpin her or his statements or behaviour. The interpreter or translator’s personal view of such systems must not be allowed to intrude on the interpreting session, nor must the interpreter or translator stereotype.  

Advice giving

The interpreter or translator’s task is not to provide advice to the client.

2.2 Confidentiality / conflicts of interest in legal cases 

An interpreter who has interpreted for a client in a private appointment and is subsequently asked to interpret in a court or legal scenario should declare this to those requesting the interpreting. In all cases the interpreter or translator should observe confidentiality to the client.
END
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