Rob Newman

Teacher contracts

Are they binding, and if so, how?


A thing that is close to most teachers and schools alike is your contract. 

Many of them aren't worth the paper they are written on, but most are. Schools will go to enormous lengths to get out of honoring a clause in a contract that is seen as detrimental to the school. Likewise teachers try to find loopholes that will help them break the contract so they can leave with a clear conscience, and feel they honored their part.

Let's face it, when a teacher realizes they made a mistake by taking the job, or have suddenly found another school that will pay them more money, they will try to get out of the contract. Many just up and leave with no word or thought for the mess they are leaving behind.

Probation

All contracts have a probationary period, usually three months. This time is not only for the school to see if your work is up to standard, but is also for you to see if the school is what they have presented themselves to be, is the school up to your standard? Let's be honest, if you can't suss out a school in three months you're a bit slow. At any time you feel that the school isn't for you within the probationary period you can leave without penalty or a feeling of guilt.

Be careful though. Your visa if it is a non-immigrant B visa is tied to the school. You quit, the school is obliged by law to notify the immigration division and cancel your visa. That gives you 7 days to get your house in order. Most of the time you will need to leave the country and re-enter on a new visa. This isn't the school being mean, it is the law. They can get into the smelly dark brown sticky stuff is they don't, just as much as you can.

The dreaded 10-month contract

Contract lengths vary with schools. Some go for a twelve month contract, others for two years, and others for ten months. Check the length of the contract before you sign it. Like most things in Thailand, contracts are negotiable. 

The obvious disadvantage for the teacher with a ten month contract is that it means the school doesn't have to pay holidays; which means you get stiffed for two months wages, just when you need them most. However, schools don't give uniform holiday entitlement. 

I know schools that give paid 6 weeks between academic years, plus 3 weeks in October, plus usually 1 week - 10 days over Christmas and New Year. Yet I know others that give three weeks out of the whole year, the rest you work or don't get paid. Whilst you are looking at holidays, don't forget the Thai teachers, they get an average of 1 week per year.

It pays to stick around

One thing I will say for Thai schools: They do tend to reward loyalty. The more you show the school that you want to be a part of the school, and stick with them for a few years, the more the school will support you in what you try to do and pay you better for doing it.

Contracts are there to be used by both parties, be ready with a bit of give and take, (you give the school takes) be honest with yourself, are you really worth the salary you expect? 

Should a non-teaching degree be worth the same to a school as a teaching degree? Yes, we know you could be earning twice as much in Korea or Japan, so why aren't you? Yes, we know you have commitments in your own country, so why are you here?

Weigh up your options

Before you commit to a contract, think hard and long about it. Don't rush into it, take a day or two, look at the options, then decide. Once you have decided though, stop thinking about whether you have made the right choice. Get on with the job, keep your head down and avoid the gossips. Honour your contract, and be honorable to yourself, your employer, and your pupils/students.

Should a school break your contract, you can always go to the Ministry of Labour. They will help you. You can sue the school for breach of contract.




Comments

If you are a “fake” teacher and worrying about the number of temporary teaching certificates you can get, then the key is to decide before they apply for your license. Sometimes this is immediate, and sometimes you have a few months. Nothing is worse than realizing the other teachers are super toxic right after you got another license. I think you only get 3 or 4, max 8 years. As everyone knows, it’s good for two years, or whenever you leave…whichever comes first. Contracts are probably OK with a gov’t school and likely garbage for a private school (based on what I’ve heard). Sure, you can go to BKK and take a private school to court…..seems like a waste of time. The contract is the last thing on my mind. Extra work, horrible foreign teachers (insert 100 pages of laws broken), or simply just a bad environment should be figured out in about a week. Worse case, delay with the teaching license and non-B and leave after getting your first paycheck. Note: I wouldn’t continue to work in that province, however, if you burn a bridge this way. I’ve seen foreign teachers hit kids and luckily I didn’t have a WP yet, easy exit. School said that was probably the only time he hit kids. Yeah, OK, I’m out of here. Writer says “avoid the gossip.” That is impossible, sorry. Foreign teachers will try to get you fired and people will tell you. As we all know, if you are from the UK or America, no school is firing you in this environment. Probation seems to only work with agencies, since they promise a fluent English speaker and the joker can’t even introduce himself without struggling. Easily fired, replaced, and usually a different problem. It took me three schools in a big city before I finally found a place that understood how to find good people. Best advice: Don’t worry about anything; enjoy your time with your kids, understand it’s a part-time experience, and move on. The worst losers are the 10-year veterans who hate absolutely everything but smile at the Thai teachers as they act like everything is great.

By Andrea C, Thailand (31st December 2021)

There is a huge amount of incorrect information in this post

Schools do not have contracts in which large parts of it they willfully intend to dishonor. Maybe agencies but not schools.

As soon as your wp is cancelled your extension is cancelled. If you are on a visa that is probably valid for the duration but I'd get out asap. There is no grace period as stated above (7days). You cannot jump to a different school without release paperwork. Your wp is not transferable.

Teachers generally don't up and leave unless the environment is truly toxic. Hopefully, they will wait until the term. More below.

I've done five contacts none have had any mention of a probationary period. I've always had my work permit in about two months. I would not work past day 90 without a permit. This sounds like agency issues. There is nothing written into a contract I'm aware of that would give you the option of leaving in a school contract.

Schools do not reward loyalty more than you get a contract next year. There are no merit bonuses or perks.

The biggest disadvantage to the ten month contract is not losing 30k from a horrible little school or agency that would offer this. The problem is this is not continuous employment. To apply for your full license you'll need about 18 mos full employment as TCT counts from date in WP. If your wp = agency you'll never qualify for a license btw.

Thai schools are give and take. You really should be supporting the school and carrying some of the EC burden.

90% of teachers are here because it's the low rung. They are lazy, incompetent, lack technical skills, have no command of teaching in general, ability to work side jobs and do. Some Thai woman might take notice of them Koreans.....kinda never. The longer I teach the worse this opinion becomes of other "teachers*. Everyone busy with everything but their students.

*Teachers* rush in because when offered a job they sign thankful to have another year. Many have no intention of actually doing the job. Most have never even held a proper white collar job before and many see showing up and killing time as the job.

A teacher might boast having taught six years or whatever but if that's not spent working hard to develop their skills, courses and abilities then that teacher's abilities are retarded to year two or even one.

The flipside is a teacher that has embraced all the rubbish including ECs school's throw at them. Teachers that constantly scour the internet for new ideas. Teachers that try new things and approaches. Teachers that are fully immersed in technology. Teachers that are licensed because if you're not licensed after six years not only are you done but it just says - I don't care about this job / career. Period.

Horrible fraudulent teachers will be the first to jump down your throat in defense of themselves. They'll make all sorts of excuses. In the end they're just as big a losers here as they are in their home countries. They had nothing, given a chance to remake themselves and have a semi professional job and decided it's too much effort.

Lots of misinformation in this post but the guy's heart is in the right place. I'll give him that.

By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (15th November 2021)

The Central Thai Labour Court in Thailand is strong and is fair to both foreigners and Thais alike. However, the letter of the law can be a long one.

Also, nothing at the Labour Court in Thailand is in the English language.

(On a different note, I've never heard of a 10 month contract, that didn't pay the October mid-term holiday - I believe you're confusing these with the standard 9.5 month contracts.)

By Richard Constable, Bang Na (11th November 2021)

I had a school break it's contract and I went to the ministry of labor in Chiang Mai, and they showed me in the law books, that foreign teachers and Thai alike have no protection...period.
It was in plain English, so your contract is not worth the paper its printed on!

By james allen, Fang (27th February 2012)

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