A new study of the language profession finds that 75 percent of interpreters and translators are freelance or self-employed. The comprehensive study reveals that independent contractor status is the norm throughout California, in all categories in the profession, and even across nations.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are depending on interpreters and translators to make sense of official announcements and apply evidence-based guidance to slow new infections and save lives. But thousands of practicing linguists are facing an extraordinary challenge, compounded by the public-health emergency, that threatens their ability to survive professionally and serve their communities.
For linguists in California, since January 1 a new state law, AB 5, has thrown their profession and capacity to operate into grave doubt. The law fails to include linguists among its exemptions for occupations or traditionally independent professionals, even though the official labor code recognizes translators and interpreters as “professionals and kindred occupations.”