A client recently asked for a job to be done urgently. Since ‘urgent’ means little without a specific date, I asked what the deadline was. There was no deadline. There is a different between need and want. By saying it’s urgent, you are putting the translator under time pressure, and as with any kind of work, any unpleasant condition must be offset by a higher pay.
One of the ways I manage my availability is by doing the work as soon as time allows to avoid any backlog when another project comes in. If you say it is urgent, my understanding is that I may have to sacrifice my evening or weekend for it, and my quotation will reflect that. An employee can expect to be paid time and a half on a Saturday and double on a Sunday. Similarly, translators typically charge 50% to 100% extra for weekend work, and 25% to 50% for evenings.
Apart from compensating us for the inconvenience, urgency rates are also used to encourage clients to rethink their deadline so we may keep our weekends and evenings free and do the work during standard office hours. A more ample deadline and respect for our spare time is much preferred to more pressure and a higher invoice. Besides, rushing and quality have never been best friends, especially when you feel tired after a long day or week. Like any working person, translators need breaks.
The fact that freelancers can be more flexible in practical terms doesn’t mean that we are available any day, any time; we too have family and friends, hobbies and commitments, and need time off. Like our clients, we are usually available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Any overtime is at our discretion and at your expense.
The sooner you ask for a translation, the better your chance of getting it at a standard rate. How urgent it is, and how much it will cost, is up to you.