The Freelance translator – The Trade

By Natalia Sebastián, Senior Translator and Editor at Nóvalo

I thought this is a great subject for my first post in our blog “Depende del contexto”, because it directly touches a growing number of freelance workers and there is not much information posted about this in other translation blogs.

Although many people can think this is something new, the legal form of the “trade” has been ruled and standardized for multiple years. This formula was launched to add an extra value to the freelance form, so freelance workers could benefit from some of the advantages that in-house workers receive.

According to its definition, the trade is a freelance worker who performs her professional activity for a translation provider or a customer from whom she gets, at least, the 75% of her income. In this way, the freelance can bill the other 25% of her activity to other customers.

According to the last report by the ATA (Federation representing freelance workers in Spain) released in August 2013, the amount of trades has been increased up to 70% in the last five years, reaching 324,921 trades, that account for 10,7% total trades in Spain. This upward trend may continue for the next few years due to the service outsourcing driven by companies.

However, to date, this legal form is not very frequent in our sector, among other purposes, because the freelance worker must be the one who applies for it to the customer they have this trade relationship with, so an agreement can be entered. The main role of this trade relationship is to create closer ties with the main customer and to offer a dedicated collaboration to that customer based on a previous stable trade relationship.

You can find below some main characteristics for the trade profile:

  • – The trade should perform a minimum of 75% of their activity for their main customer.
  • – They should own the materials and resources required to perform the translation activity, as a computer, the software, the computer-assisted tools, the dictionaries and glossaries needed.
  • – They should freely organize themselves when doing their tasks according to their own professional criteria (labor times and order of the tasks to do) considering the main translation provider/customer’s guidelines.
  • – They should get an economic compensation for the performance of their activity, as agreed with the customer.
  • – They should not hire employees.
  • – They should do their work in a distinctive manner from that of the company/customer freelance workers.
  • – They should enter an agreement with the main customer, which should be registered at their local National Employment Institute within 10 labor days from the entering date. The trade should report this registry (with no public nature) to the customer within 5 working days from the registry date. In case the trade did not report the agreement registry to the customer within 15 working days from the entering date, the customer should register the agreement in their local National Employment Institute within the 10 following working days.

As I will explain below, the trade role includes the following benefits:

  • – Entering an agreement which includes work terms and conditions and their right to unemployment benefit in case the customer is in serious breach of its contractual obligations (in this case, the trade should comply with some requirements, apart from those required for the other freelance workers).
  • – 18 working days of holidays by law.
  • – Maternity leave with no minimum contributory period (180 days).
  • – Not establishing a maximum amount of working hours and the rest period of consecutive hours between working days. However, in general, the weekly rest period and the bank holidays are established in the contract.
  • – Saving in the Social Security payments for trades under 30.
  • – The trade can also get a fixed and stable billing from their main customer. Thus, the trade does not need to look for new projects or acquire new customers so frequently.

In short, the trade profile for a translator fits in perfectly with those professionals who want to combine the benefits for freelance workers (mobility, flexible schedule, free acceptance of jobs, etc.) and the benefits for in-house workers under a collaboration agreement (paid holidays, cessation of work due to illness or maternity leave, unemployment benefits, etc.). However, as I said above, this formula has not been as successful as expected and has not proliferated in our sector, among other purposes, because trades are the ones who must apply for this formula and the agreement and should deal with their main customer. Many freelance workers would rather refuse to the benefits for this formula in return for total freedom in the performance of their activity. This has made difficult the general implementation of this type of agreements, at least in the translation sector. As I said above, this formula has been successfully established as a common practice.

I hope you enjoyed reading this brief post which is intended to present an overview of this formula for freelance workers, mainly in our sector where there are a lot of them.

For further information about trades, please see the Estatuto del Trabajo Autónomo (BOE num.166) (Freelance Worker Statute Law), where you could find more details about the benefits and the terms and conditions for trades.