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All equal under the law?

All equal under the law?

I completed the registration form, sent agency certificates from the Tax Agency and the Social Security to prove that I am current with my tax and social security contributions, signed the non-disclosure agreement and then did an excellent job, delivering the work on time, to specification and in accordance with all the instructions. At the end of the month, I submitted my invoice for the month, sat back and waited to receive my money. And I’m still waiting.

In Spain, Act no 15/2010 of 5 July on measures to combat late payments in commercial translations is supposed to protect people like me. The amendments introduced by this law include maximum terms of payment in commercial relations between business persons in the broadest sense. These legal terms are compulsory and binding and therefore cannot be lengthened by mutual agreement of the parties and certainly NOT unilaterally because it suits one of the parties.

The terms are 30 days for administrative entities and 60 days FROM THE DATE OF RECEIPT OF THE GOODS OR RENDERING OF SERVICES in the case of private companies. These regulations have been in force since 2013 and they are applicable to the translation industry.

Why then, do I constantly come up against attempts to draw out the payment period to completely unreasonable lengths? I only work for one (brilliant) agency that pays me the day after I deliver the work. Why should this be so unusual? You don’t pay your hairdresser or cleaner months after she comes to do the work. As you can imagine, I give absolute priority to this agency and, luckily for me, I have relationships with excellent, honourable agencies always pay me on time, at 45 days. They have my enduring and absolute loyalty. However, the great majority have never paid me on time and become extremely indignant when I chase them for my money when I finally lose my patience after waiting for more than two months.

The other day I received an email ‘confirming’ clearly illegal terms. I had issued my invoice on 29 January and was informed that I would be paid on 10May. I replied quoting the aforementioned law and received the following reply.

“It is true that the law establishes a maximum payment term of 60 days which is why I have been negotiating and improving the payment conditions with my clients since 2010, when the law came into force, to make some progress in this area. However, so far I can only make occasional payments on time and I cannot commit to anything else until all my customers pay me on time.”

Pass the buck, eh…? Doesn’t she realise that she is exactly the same as them? As you can imagine, I will not be doing any more work for this agency, which blatantly infringes the law and is using me to improve its liquidity. I am sure you’ve had the same problem. What do you do about it?

Juliet Allaway

Written by norak