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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


edited 13 Feb '13, 16:19

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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

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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

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 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

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answered 13 Feb '13, 14:38

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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
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question asked: 13 Feb '13, 14:25

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