TIS National Deed of Standing Offer

Proposed Amendments to Contracting Arrangements

Duration of the Deed Currently
TIS National reserves the right to extend the Deed for up to 10 years, during which they can alter the majority of the terms of the Deed as well as the policies that underpin it. Therefore, the Department holds a level of power to vary the Deed, potentially over a 10-year period, which is unfathomed by a typical principal in a true independent contractor relationship.

TIA proposes that this be amended so that any changes to the duration, terms and policies can only be made by mutual agreement in writing with you.

Presently the Deed does not provide for any fee increases which means that they can effectively operate without increases to fees for up to 10 years.

TIA proposes that at a minimum, fees must increase by CPI annually. This needs to be reflected in the Deed.

Dispute Resolution and the Issues Management Framework (“the IMF”)
The dispute resolution process and IMF do not allow translators and interpreters to raise certain types of issues, including termination and deallocation of services. Where a dispute cannot be brought under either of these mechanisms, translators and interpreters may be left with no alternative other than litigation to resolve a dispute.

In order to prevent such extreme action, TIA seeks that the dispute resolution process and the IMF be expanded to allow all types of issues to be raised under those provisions.

Cancellation fees
The Department can charge you a cancellation fee of a “reasonable amount” – but there is no indication within the Deed as to what this means. They say this fee covers the “administrative cost” of finding a replacement interpreter/translator to perform an Assignment. We question this cost, given the following statistics from page 178-179 of the Department’s 2018-2019 Annual Report:
  • 98.57 per cent of all TIS National calls were assigned to an interpreter within three minutes
  • 99 per cent of all on-site bookings were assigned within three days of receipt
TIA therefore seeks to have all such references in the Deed and the Operations Manual removed.

Delay of Payment of Fees
The Department reserves the right to delay payment of your fees in specific circumstances. There is no limit to this delay and you cannot question it.

TIA finds the full terms of this clause unreasonable and seeks to have this item included as matter under the dispute resolution process.

Indemnity and Insurance
While it is usual for contractors to have their own insurances, the Department can direct you to take out insurances or additional insurances, in circumstances where they should be payable by the Department. These clauses do not state under what circumstances the Department may do this. We request this clause be amended, so that service providers (you) may only be required to take out their own or additional insurances, in circumstances beyond the Department’s control, or if these circumstances are rare, then the Department should be able to meet this cost.

TIA also requests amendment to the clause regarding travel insurance, such that the Department will pay for all associated travel insurances.

Termination for convenience
The Department maintains that it requires the flexibility to terminate the Deed or reduce the scope of Services for any reason to accommodate for government policy changes or other government exigencies.

Generally, government policy changes are made, and should be made, with consultation and agreement with stakeholders (including T & I) who would be affected by or will benefit from such change.

Given that there are almost 3000 T&I who work for the Department, it is unclear as to why they would see fit to change your arrangements at short notice.

It is not uncommon for both employment and independent contracts to provide for a reasonable period of notice and limit termination for specific circumstances. In fact, we believe that these are imperative terms of any working arrangement, as they allow the other party a fair and reasonable time to source other income, should there be a valid reason they can no longer do so from the terminating party.

TIA believes that as a starting point, these broad changes are fair reasonable improvements to the Deed. TIS National has until 24 June to respond.