Employing and managing an international workforce has its benefits, but also some challenges. Outsourcing translation and interpreting services is crucial in certain circumstances.
In sensitive situations such as grievance and disciplinary procedures, using the services of an independent interpreter is always advisable. This prevents misunderstandings and may help protect both parties from any claims; using employees as interpreters cannot ensure impartiality nor prevent rumours circulating amongst staff.
Recently, I interpreted in a grievance meeting for an employee who has been working for my client for 10 years. Both the employee and the employer have recognised the benefits of an impartial and confidential service and will continue to use my services throughout the process.
Outsourcing translation of important Health and Safety and procedural documentation is not only helpful in preventing staff accidents but can help protect the employer in the event of an incident. Employers have a duty of care towards their staff, sometimes described in a company’s Health and Safety handbook, which the employee will be required to read and confirm their understanding - usually with a signature.
If their English is limited it can be difficult for the employer to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure their employee’s safety. Once the company policy is translated into a relevant language, it can be reproduced, ensuring a complete understanding. From my experience of interpreting for the H&S Executive, investigating the employees’ depth of understanding of health, safety and work related instruction forms a significant part of any accident investigation.
In the UK, translators and interpreters can be found in free online directories of two main professional organisations:
Agata is a Polish native speaker with academic background in International Business and Law. She specialises in providing language assistance to businesses in Trade, Finance, HR and Law.