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A colleague offers me an option which I accept. The next day another colleague offers me an option for the same day and the details suggest it's the same assignment that both are putting together a bid for. But the second colleague asks me to tell them if I get (or have had) any other offers for the same assignment.

Was it ethical for this colleague to have asked me this? And would have been ethical to have replied?

(It's seems to me to be to be a breach of client confidentiality - even if only between interpreters - and yet it also seems to be fairly standard practice).

asked 13 Feb '13, 14:25

Andy's gravatar image

Andy
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edited 13 Feb '13, 16:19

Nacho's gravatar image

Nacho ♦
68181532


First of all, I agree with Manel and think you should never accept a second option without letting the recruiters know. You may be the only local interpreter with the right language combination or specialisation, and the recruiter may not want to run the risk of seeing you disappear and take another job without advance warning. It is very unprofessional, as I see it, not to tell the second recruiter (the first one has a privileged position - in theory, at least).

If you realise that it is the same job, then it is still your duty to tell the second recruiter that you already have a first option for those dates; unless you have been told that the first option was confidential, you may decide to tell him/her that it’s for the same job, that’s up to you; but in no case should you disclose the conditions under which you have accepted the first option. This would be utterly unethical, as I see it, as you would undermine the position of that first recruiter who has probably already sent a quote.

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answered 14 Feb '13, 14:13

Danielle's gravatar image

Danielle
2.5k5712

Thanks Danielle, Dealing with options per se wasn't really the issue - I'm comfortable how and when to make recruiters aware of my status (eg. under option or not) for a given day.

My question really can expressed more clearly in reaction to you saying I "may decide to tell him/her that it’s for the same job, that’s up to you". Is it really up to me? Isn't this covered by default confidentiality?

(15 Feb '13, 07:27) Andy
1

I don't know waht default confidentiality is for an option. I don't think an option is confidential by default, rather the contrary. You may have to discuss the conditions of an option with your potential boothmates; or check with another consultant-interpreter who has offered you work for the same client in the past etc. As a matter of fact, discussing an option is a question of ethics and conscience (and loyalty). As far as secrecy is concerned, you may want to read this article I compiled and published on the aiic website http://aiic.net/page/540 It might shed some light to our professional secrecy.

(15 Feb '13, 07:35) Danielle

You're very welcome, Andy :-).

Zeroing in on your question:

  • to begin with, you will have advised the 2nd optioner that you're under a previous option for those dates - unless of course you'd rather just say that you're not available... but that won't do much for your workload, should the 1st option fall through :-) and may be resented by the 2nd optioner, when s/he finds out, thus damning you in his/her books
  • 1st options having 1st refusal rights, it's only natural that the 2nd optioner will want to gauge the likelihood of the 1st option coming through, so as to be able to make an informed decision as to hedging - with an alternate optionee - the chances of having a good team, and therefore ask for some details
  • and it's in your best interest also that the 2nd optioner is not forced to decide to withdraw his/her proferred option for lack of information as to the likelihood of your being able to accept a confirmation, if and when it comes, despite having come to you in the 1st place and even though you may finally be available, and go elsewhere straightaway
  • and it would be odd (and not very cooperative/collegial if the optioner is a colleague) if you know it to be the same, NOT to say so: it should not be an earth-shattering surprise that clients, even trusted ones, ask for more than one quote, even when they have trusted suppliers...
  • as I wrote earlier, you should obviously NOT disclose further particulars, namely who the optioners are, unless they tell you to do so
  • ...and all of this of course applies only to those options which are not so confidential, for good reason - I've had my share :-) - that you're instructed not do disclose their very existence when you're given them... in which case, having accepted them under such terms, you would indeed be unable to say more than that you are under a previous option, if that much is allowed or not even that, never mind the consequences!
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answered 13 Feb '13, 18:03

msr's gravatar image

msr
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answered 13 Feb '13, 14:38

msr's gravatar image

msr
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Thanks Manuel. In that answer you only briefly touch on the issue that interests me, when you answer "if you were able, on the basis of particulars supplied, to determine that it's the same assignment, I would tell both that the options are for the same meet," Why would you share that information with either party? And should an interpreter? They might be competing agencies/ recruiters. Is the act of offering an option not subject to confidentiality?

(13 Feb '13, 16:16) Andy

Hi Manuel, Thanks again. Reading your answer I see that it was the distinction between bullets 4 & 5 that I was after and which wasn't so clear in my question. It was not just my being under option that interested the colleague in question (which I naturally explained). It was that they were after the details. Thanks Andy

(14 Feb '13, 01:31) Andy

Again, you're very welcome... and please excuse my sometimes too "truth-revealing Moses' tone" :-) this is of course but my take on things, I stand to be educated by other colleagues.

(14 Feb '13, 05:56) msr

You're very welcome, Andy :-).

Zeroing in on your question:

  • to begin with, you will have advised the 2nd optioner that you're under a previous option for those dates - unless of course you'd rather just say that you're not available... but that won't do much for your workload, should the 1st option fall through :-) and may be resented by the 2nd optioner, when s/he finds out, thus damning you in his/her books
  • 1st options having 1st refusal rights, it's only natural that the 2nd optioner will want to gauge the likelihood of the 1st option coming through, so as to hedge with a 2nd optionee the chances of having a good team, and therefore ask for some details
  • and it's in your best interest also that the 2nd optioner is not forced to decide to withdraw his/her proferred option for lack of information as to the likelihood of your being able to accept a confirmation, if and when it comes, despite having come to you in the 1st place and even though you may finally be available, and go elsewhere straightaway
  • and it would be odd (and not very cooperative/collegial if the optioner is a colleague) if you know it to be the same, NOT to say so: it should not be an earth-shattering surprise that clients, even trusted ones, ask for more than one quote, even when they have trusted suppliers...
  • as I wrote earlier, you should of course NOT disclose further particulars, namely who the optioners are, unless they tell you to do so
  • ...and all of this of course applies only to those options which are not so confidential, for good reason - I've had my share :-) - that you're instructed not do disclose their very existence when you're given them... in which case, having accepted them under such terms, you would indeed be unable to say more than that you are under a previous option, if that much is allowed or not even that, never mind the consequences!
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answered 13 Feb '13, 18:02

msr's gravatar image

msr
3.9k5923

Je prends le train en marche, pour esquisser de manière très générale une réponse à éclairage juridique. Je sais que la question d'Andy se réfère bien plus à l'ethos professionnel, plus imprégné par la coutume, la morale, etc. que par des considérations légales. Cependant, l'un influence généralement l'autre ou peut servir d'argumentaire lorsque la coutume professionnelle n'est pas claire.

L'obligation de secret peut avoir deux sources : Légale ou contractuelle.

Pour l'aspect légal, très brièvement, évoquons juste l'objet des textes. Il s'agit de protéger une partie faible dans une relation de confiance (patient-médecin, client-avocat,...). Il y a fort à parier que le législateur ne voit pas l'interprète individuel comme étant la partie dominante face à une agence ou collègue.

Pour l'aspect contractuel :

Si Andy (A) et Bill (B) signent un contrat, il peut y avoir une clause de confidentialité. Avant signature, la phase de négociations pré-contractuelle est juste soumise à une obligation de bonne foi. En gros, on évite de faire croire qu'on est disponible pour finalement dire NON la veille de la signature, alors qu'on saît d'avance qu'on ne peut pas s'engager (l'anniversaire de Tante Lucie prévu de longue date) ou qu'on ne veut pas s'engager (on dit oui, puis non, juste pour mettre B dans de beaux draps).

Il peut également résulter des obligations pour A issues d'autres contrats. Mettons que A fasse partie du Club International des Interprètes de Conférence (C). Dans les principes promus par C, on compte le devoir de réserve / secret professionnel.

Si les principes de C auxquels A a adhéré ne sont pas clairs, on peut toujours essayer de cerner les objectifs du texte : S'agit-il de protéger le client final ? De promouvoir et protéger la réputation de la profession ? De permettre une cohabitation paisible entre collègues à long terme ?

Un peu des trois ? Il s'agira alors de prendre en compte les multiples intérêts en jeu. Surtout si on est en position de force malgré soi, à cause de la concentration d'informations que l'on reçoit (ce qui donne pourtant plutôt l'impression d'être entre le marteau et l'enclume).

Je crois que le meilleur moyen de ménager le chou et la chèvre serait de dire aux deux collègues que l'on a été contacté pour une option le même jour. Sans évoquer le contenu, ni l'identité. De cette façon, les deux collègues obtiennent l'information principale : S'ils ne se dépêchent pas d'envoyer une option ferme, A signera peut-être ailleurs. Aussi, je pense qu'on peut partir du principe que tout collègue qui constitue une équipe n'est pas né de la dernière pluie, qu'il est conscient de ne pas être le seul à avoir été contacté par le client pour un devis, et qu'il sera bien en mesure de se douter ce que cela peut bien vouloir dire si A reçoit deux options pour le même jour (hormis le fait qu'A est très demandé. ;-) ).

Pour le collègue recruteur qui met au pied du mur en demandant de prévenir si on entend parler du même évènement par quelqu'un d'autre : Ca a un goût de you're either with us, or against us.

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answered 07 May '13, 07:18

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦
3.0k101627

edited 07 May '13, 07:29

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Asked: 13 Feb '13, 14:25

Seen: 1,616 times

Last updated: 07 May '13, 07:29

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