LanguageLine recently contacted interpreters to inform them that they will continue to supply interpreting services to Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Teaching Hospital and have also been awarded the contract for the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group. However, this comes at a cost: [we have had to] “significantly alter the prices that we charge our client organisations and agree to reducing the minimum booking duration to two hours”.
For BSL/English interpreters this equates to around a 30% cut in their fee. Interpreters set their fee based on the number of bookings they can reliably do in one day and, while Language Line believe that this will be offset in the extra work available, this is not guaranteed and the previous company to run this contract did so at sustainable rates of pay. In our 2015-16 survey of working conditions, BSL/English interpreters cited an increase in the number of 2 hour minimum bookings as unviable and a reason for not undertaking such work.
NUBSLI is working hard to ensure rates of pay that keep our profession viable and have written to Language Line concerning this. We also believe that companies tendering for contracts should do so quoting rates that are sustainable, a matter that we will be raising with Sheffield council, Teaching Hospital and CCG.
Update: In order to protect the future of the profession, and the Deaf community’s continued access to qualified BSL/English interpreters, NUBSLI members in Sheffield have begun a boycott of LanguageLine contracts in the Sheffield area. Find out more
The private equity firm that owns LanguageLine has recently sold the company for $1.5billion. You can read more about that here.