MT Services and their independent contractors

An interesting subject came up on one of the MT boards this week. (I’m not going to give them a link back, because they don’t allow links to other MT sites on their site.)

The MT posting the topic said she’s an independent contractor for an MT service company and was recently notified that if the hospital account she works on goes out of TAT, there is a 15% penalty – so the MTSO is passing that penalty onto the MT contractors.


Whether you’re working as an employee or an independent contractor, I have news for you, so MTs – sit up and take notice.

The contractual agreements between an MTSO and client, including penalties for failing to meet turnaround, aren’t your problem, whether you’re an employee or an independent contractor. Unless, of course, you’re the employee responsible for staffing, scheduling and making sure the account stays in turnaround. If you’re an MT (employee or IC) who is just putting in your lines – not your problem.

And MTSOs – here’s a news flash. If you agree to a TAT penalty, it’s your responsibility to meet it – not the MTs who are doing the work. It simply isn’t the responsibility of your contractors or employees to make sure you are meeting the contractual obligations agreed upon between your business and your client.

In my opinion, it’s just shameful for a business to attempt to pass contractual penalties along to the MTs doing the work.

Let’s understand something – being an independent contractor isn’t the same as being a chump. Your IC business may accept TAT penalties from your clients, but they’re agreed upon in advance and you would only agree to them if you have full responsibility – and control – for the entire account. If you’re one of five MTs contracting with a client (because maybe they don’t want to work with a unified service), you would never agree to a contractual penalty for TAT because you have no control over what the other four MTs working on the account are doing. Working on an account for an MTSO as an IC is no different – you have no control over their staffing, their management, their operations management, their workflow process or the other MTs. Why in the world would you accept a penalty because they’re not meeting their contractual TAT?

The post I’m referring to also makes a reference that this is how you treat employees, not ICs. Another news flash – you don’t treat employees like this, either. Would you, as an employee, agree to a policy that makes YOU responsible for the overall TAT of the account? It’s the same story – whether you’re a contractor or an employee, you don’t control the management of the entire account.

Here’s a clue: the people who control the management of the account are the ones responsible. And they should take that responsibility, not pass the buck on to the people who don’t control the process. And it doesn’t matter whether those people are employees or independent contractors.

My advice to this MT is to write a letter to management, pointing out that contractual obligations are being met by the independent contractor and that any attempt to reduce payments will result in suspension or termination of services. Then start looking for another contract.

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5 thoughts on “MT Services and their independent contractors”

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Julie, but this is yet another instance where it’s too difficult to “vote with your feet,” so people stay put and take the abuse. How to stop it? That’s the $64K question.

  2. I’ve made the same suggestion to this MT (find another situation). Although the stunt being pulled by this MTSO is ethically unconscionable and almost certainly violates the terms of the IC contract, as a practical matter there’s really not much an individual MT can do about this except vote with her feet.

    The only other possible course of action would be to mount a group or “class” legal challenge. Unfortunately, it’s extremely rare to find that kind of cohesiveness among even small numbers of MTs, let alone the wider community, which is one reason that the working conditions, compensation, etc. in this field have deteriorated so shamefully. Various impositions like the one this MTSO is attempting to perpetrate have become the rule, rather than the exception.

  3. It is difficult to vote with your feet. If someone in a bad situation can’t do that, then they may need to realize that they’ve painted themselves into a corner and work to change *that* overall situation.

    When you get yourself out of that corner it will be easier to alleviate the associated aches and pains that go along with it.

  4. Part of the problem I see, Margie, is that many of these ICs – while proclaiming that THEY call the shots – don’t work for more than one company and make no effort to work for more than one company. Well, it’s hard to call the shots when your one client has you by the short hairs.

    But a discussion about independent contractors v. employee status in this business would require a completely new page. 🙂

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