This study was conducted in response to an idea that was raised recently, to eliminate the opportunity for professional linguists—translators and interpreters—to work as independent contractors. Instead, professional linguists would need to be employees for whomever required their services. They would have taxes deducted from their paychecks, receive whatever benefits might be afforded and generally be subject to traditional employer controls. We wanted to understand the professional linguist perspective on this idea related to the conduct of their profession and also their interest in performing work as an employee versus an independent business person.
Report: Some in government view translators and interpreters as low-wage workers, commonly abused by employers who misclassify them as contractors in an effort to escape taxes. While this behavior happens in some cases, this study found little evidence to support the idea that this is an intentional and widespread behavior or that it is applicable to the mainstream of the language industry. Some government agencies are auditing language service providers and applying fines and sanctions on small companies which find it difficult to navigate a sea of obscure and conflicting regulations.
Survey Response Data: State of Residence: A total of 118 responses were received from the group of 927 professional linguists who were invited to participate in this study. The linguists were located in 25 states with the largest number of respondents being from California (43%), followed by Massachusetts (8.5%), Texas (5%) Florida (4%) and Ohio (4%) with the other states combined having slightly more than a third of the total respondents with 34.75%.