Members of the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) have set out what they think should be minimum fees for BSL/English interpreters.
The rates include a minimum call out fee of £90 in most parts of the country, time and a half at evenings and weekends, a 100 per cent charge if a booking is cancelled less than eight days before, and accommodation expenses when an overnight stay is required.
In an article on the Unite website, Nicky Evans, NUBSLI branch secretary, said: “Mounting concern over the future of quality interpreting for deaf people and a desire to safeguard the profession against attacks on pay are what has prompted our call for a minimum fees structure.
“The drive to cut costs at any cost is setting back the incredible strides made by the deaf community over the past 30 years. We believe that some contracts are being awarded at levels so low that the provision of services can only be offered by persons with low level language qualifications and no interpreting skills.
“Over the last few years there has been less work available for our members indicating that deaf people are losing out on access whether at work or in other areas of their lives. This is completely unacceptable.
“NUBSLI believes that the introduction of a minimum fees structure will go some way to protecting not only our members’ livelihoods but a profession that is a lifeline to the country’s deaf community.
“The government needs to recognise the far reaching implications of its damaging public sector spending cuts. Deaf people are losing out. The very future of the interpreting profession is at risk. It will be impossible to maintain the profession’s commitment to high standards and ethics if terms and rates of pay continue to be slashed.”