Richard Constable

Teacher contract headaches

What happens to foreign teacher contracts now that the Thai school year will run from July 1st to mid-April 2021?


Could somebody please tell me what happens to foreign teacher contracts now that the Thai school year will run from July 1st through to the middle of April 2021?

For example, my own particular contract will start on 22nd June, as that is the day I've been informed that I'm to return to the school where I teach. We have a week or so to prepare as always before the students return.

I'm still in the dark as to when the final day of the contract will be, as we have always had a week to either finish off or prepare lessons, before the main summer break or the school's summer course.

Why am I too blind to see? Well, because my usual contract is a 10-month contract plus a one month summer course, which only equates to 11 months. And as this coming year is an unprecedented one to say the least, I'm still at the negotiation stage.

At this time the agent who I work for directly and the school who I work for indirectly are trying to work out something agreeable for all parties involved.

Returning to my school's summer course, it usually runs from mid-March to the Songkran holiday, and that didn't happen this year, and it won't be happening next year either as we will still be in the second semester until the Songkran holiday (mid-April) 2021.

Bafflingly, the 2021-2022 school year will start around a fortnight later, about three weeks earlier than any other previously known Thai school year.

The majority of foreign teachers in Thailand are on 9.5 month contracts. Their contracts traditionally begin roughly in the middle of May and terminate just around the end of February, whilst incurring a mid-semester break of approximately three weeks in October that they never ever get paid for.

Yes, that's right! Whether you like it or not, the average person teaching in Thailand only receives about 8 months and 3 weeks pay per year, from working in his or her government or private school. Now that the October mid-term holiday isn't going to happen, doesn't it open up a huge can of worms? Won't most foreign teachers in Thailand have to be upped to a 9 months and 3 weeks contract, as in one that begins around about 22nd June and ends when the water festival holiday begins in 2021?

As a result, instead of working about 8 months and 3 weeks as before, they'll be working for 9 months and 3 weeks, so shouldn't that mean that they should get paid another month's salary?

Back to myself and others with our 10-month contracts that will presumably end on 22nd April next year. That is having lost our three-week break on full pay in October, are we just expected to work an additional three weeks for free while incurring extra travel expenses?

What about the cream cheeses? Well, I guess Christmas is coming early for the big boys and girls on the full 12-month contracts. If you are going to be paid for this May and June, then in my estimations you should have few qualms.

Going back to my contract, thus far I've been offered no more than I was formally expecting (1,000 baht monthly pay increase) and I am still not open to working an extra three weeks for free, nor are the school filled with glee at my proposal that each 10-month contracted foreign teacher be paid an extra month's salary in compensation.

And I doubt whether the "government's think tank' will have even considered this as a problem. Let alone the parents, as in they might be asked to pay more in their children's school fees.

Not all foreign teachers are prepared to work a few extra weeks for free, alongside already earning a relatively low professional salary without as much as a pension pending.

In fact, there are a good few more developing, and for that matter developed countries that also offer little in the way of benefits to foreign teachers but pay you for the work you do.




Comments

Actually, Jason. If you read the blog, you will that find I'm not referring to myself.

Albeit, I was talking about the average EFL teacher in Thailand, still not right at the bottom on a 9.5 month contract, but midway - bang in the middle.

Yes, there are those that offer shorter contracts, such as a boys' school not far from the city center - which is in fact all of 7 months. Also, there are a great number of circa 8.5 month contracts, obviously you don't have any friends that either own their own schools or that are teaching agents.

Also, checkout SINE the biggest teaching agent in Thailand advertising on this site, that is they employ more teachers than any other. Yep, that's right they offer a Thailand average teaching contract of 9.5 months.

By Richard Constable, Bang Na (24th May 2020)

Just lol if you ever accept a pathetic 9.5 month contract. Have some self respect, I wouldn't even take that if I had no degree, no qualifications, and just stepped off the boat.

As for 'most' teachers being on those contracts, keep coping. You're at the bottom of the barrel, sorry but it's true.

By Jason, Bangkok (24th May 2020)

I am sure there are people in very different situations, but the information/rumors I have heard is at least some private schools and universities have seen a pretty substantial decline in enrollment for the coming term and the personnel concern of the leaders of many organizations here in Thailand is to try to not shed too many jobs while cutting costs elsewhere.

Although I am sure enrollment might not be an issue at government schools, budgets will be.

We are currently in a situation where there are hundreds of millions of unemployed people globally and governments and other organizations have incurred additional costs and are looking for ways to cut expenses.

This doesn't seem like the time most English teachers in Thailand are in a strong bargaining position.

Although if you are in the field of medical research I suspect you would be in a much stronger position.

It is always difficult to give general advice as each person has different goals and opportunities, but it might be a good idea for many teachers to take what is offered, within reason, and wait until the situation approves before expecting to be able to bargain with employers from a position of strength.

Like at all times, one should take the best offer one has, but I suspect there will be fewer and fewer attractive offers for English teachers in Thailand in 2020, English teachers are non-essential personal right now.

Being an optimist is helpful to motivate oneself but it does not change the economic and political environment we are working in.

Good luck with your contract negotiations, Richard.

By Scott, Locked-down (9th May 2020)

James, I respect what you are saying, however I believe that most teaching jobs in Thailand are through an agent. Albeit, I know that most teachers here, even lie to themselves about the length of their contract - let alone to others. These are my observations over the past 18 years and 53 schools and language centres that I have taught in.

Nonetheless, my own contract being as a rule a ten month plus a month's summer course, is just as you say - a labour of love. And very little at my time of life would even tempt me to think about leaving there for another school.

By Richard Constable, Bang Na (8th May 2020)

Whilst I appreciate the dilemma faced by teachers and schools working with such contracts, my own 15 years of experience in Thailand tells me that most teachers here are not on 9.5 month contracts. Anyone with a couple of years experience under their belt and and even basic teaching qualifications shouldn't end up in such a predicament. Unless your current position is more a labour of love than a financial necessity, my advice would be to start applying directly (avoid agencies) to schools with a more professional attitude towards language teaching.

By James, BKK (8th May 2020)

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