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Decision in case 2205/2017/JN on the adequacy of a form used by the European Commission for managing payments to freelance translators

Dostupni jezici: en
  • Slučaj: 2205/2017/JN
    Otvoren 2018.01.16 - Odluka donesena 2018.05.17
  • Predmetna/e institucija/e: Europska komisija

The complainant experienced difficulties getting paid for translation work he had carried out for the European Commission, due to problems with a form, which needs to be filled in by freelance translators. He claimed the form was inadequate.

In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the Commission accepted the complainant’s arguments, and said that it would take them into account when it revises the form in question. In the meantime, the Commission said it would provide relevant guidance to its contractors. It also apologised for any confusion created that led to payments being delayed.

The Ombudsman considered that the Commission settled the complaint and closed the inquiry.

Background to the complaint

1. The complainant works as a freelance translator for the European Commission. In 2017, the Commission delayed paying the complainant for work he had carried out due to how he had completed a form, which translators are required to submit to be paid for their work.

2. On the form in question, translators are expected to select between two options to describe their status: Option 1 for “individual freelancer contractor[s] (natural person) producing the entire translation on [their] own without the involvement of any third party”, and Option 2 for all other cases.

3. The Commission advised the complainant to select option 2. Moreover, it clarified that:

Option 1 is for natural persons (individual freelance translators) when the assignment is executed exclusively by yourself.

Option 2 is for all other cases: the assignment is executed by your employed staff or by one or more subcontractors.

4. The complainant is registered as a company (sole trader) but carries out translation assignments himself. He considered that his situation was not covered by either of the two options. The complainant turned to the Ombudsman in December 2017. He argued that the form should contain a third option for situations such as his.

The inquiry

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the complainant’s concern that the form used by the Commission is inadequate because it does not include an option for individual translators, who are registered as companies.

5. In the course of the inquiry, the Commission replied to the complainant and sent a copy of its reply to the Ombudsman.

Arguments presented to the Ombudsman

6. In its reply to the complainant, the Commission acknowledged that there was an “omission” in the form in question and thanked the complainant for bringing the matter to its attention. It said that it would take this into account when it next revises the forms used for such contracts. The Commission further said that it would provide additional guidance to its contractors on this matter.

7. Concerning the complainant’s situation, the Commission said that the legal status of a contractor determines which option they should select. Option 1 should be selected only “if you are an individual freelancer contractor (natural person) producing the entire translation on your own without the involvement of any third party”. Option 2 should be selected for all other cases, including the case of a limited liability company, such as the complainant.

8. Therefore, the Commission said that it would have expected the complainant to select Option 2. However, for three contracts, the complainant selected Option 1 instead. For this reason, the Commission suspended the payment for these contracts.

9. The Commission added that it may have created confusion by erroneously accepting the forms concerning two other contracts, in which the complainant had also selected Option 1. The Commission apologised for this.

The Ombudsman's assessment

10. The Ombudsman welcomes the Commission’s reply, which settles the issues raised by the complainant.

Conclusion

Based on the inquiry, the Ombudsman closes this case with the following conclusion:

The European Commission has settled the complaint.

The complainant and the Commission will be informed of this decision.

 

Marta Hirsch-Ziembińska

Head of Inquiries and ICT - Unit 1

Strasbourg, 17/05/2018

 

 

 

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Slučaj: 2205/2017/JN