Checklist for your teaching contract in China
You’ve got an offer - nicely done! It's time to check that your contract contains important clauses that should be included in every contract.
👉 Information about the employer
The contract should include basic information about the employer - the official name of the company, physical address, and contact details
Your teaching duties - work schedule, amount of teaching and office hours, the maximum number of classes you might expect during high season and the low season.
In my first contract, it was written: “working hours are not more than 22 hours/week”. It seemed like a good deal for me in the beginning, but unfortunately; the reality was different from what I thought. I used to have 32 classes every week; however, I was told I was only working for 18 hours. My company told me they only pay a salary for the teaching hours. Break times between classes, lunch breaks, etc. are not counted. It was demotivating to get my salary deducted.
Your basic salary both for the trial period (if any) and the rest of the employment. You should review this part thoroughly and find out how well it corresponds to the market conditions and cost of life/rent in the specific city.
When I got my first offer, I have seen the salary followed by before tax in parenthesis. I had no idea about it until I asked. I was told the salary mentioned in the contract is the gross income and a certain amount of tax will be deducted from it. I really thought it was the money I was supposed to get. While talking about salary, it is better to confirm how much tax will be cut and how much you will actually get.
Type of accommodation provided or the max amount of accommodation allowance. Some companies also provide you with an apartment loan and help you find accommodation. Usually, the school will pay for your hotel during the first week, while you are looking for an apartment. Having a free-apartment sounds very cool in the beginning, but your “free” apartment can be very different from what you expect. If a school says they will provide a free well-furnished apartment, I recommend you to see the pictures of this place, especially when working for a less known employer or smaller school that doesn't cooperate with a real estate agent. Read more about apartments and accommodation allowances in the post Things to know before moving to China.
👍 Optional benefits
🏥 Type of medical insurance or compensation for it. The company should either provide you with general state medical insurance or commercial insurance.
✈️ Flight reimbursement schedule. Should be paid evenly either each month or at the end of the contract
🎄 A number of paid holidays and vacation days. You might have full or partial compensation for summer holidays, Chinese national holidays and Christmas holidays depending on the school
⌚ Overtime payment conditions. Schools usually provide you with an opportunity to earn more without living the school and even encourage to do that during peak months (for training centers these are usually summer months)
💪 Performance bonuses. Check if you have these and how you can get them - either by successful demo classes or 100% attendance
❌ Cancellation terms. Hope you won’t need this clause, but it’s good to know sanctions for the early termination of the contract
🎁 Contract renewal bonus. It is much easier to continue the contract with you than to look for another teacher. The renewal bonus might be equal to your monthly salary!
🐉 Free Chinese Lessons. More than 90% of the schools say they have free Chinese lessons for foreign teachers. I am sure some schools really keep their promise, but unfortunately, the majority of them don’t have even one Chinese lesson. I wonder if they mean “living in China is a Chinese lesson itself” by writing “free Chinese lessons” on the contract.