English Teacher Employment Contracts in Taiwan
The Taiwanese View
According to Taiwanese law, you are required to have a signed contract in order to obtain a work permit; however, contracts in Taiwan do not seem to be as binding as they are in the United States or Canada.
Breaches of contract by Taiwanese employers do not seem to be an uncommon occurrence, and there is little that can be done. On the flip side, if you wish to leave early or change employers, this laxity can work in your favor. Be sure to have any contract that is written in Chinese translated independently by somebody impartial who is fluent in both languages before you sign it.
If you are going to teach in a bushiban, don’t count on getting the perks larger schools sometimes offer; in fact, you may not even have a contract. If you land a job at a larger school, keep in mind that a guaranteed number of hours per week and the rate of payment should always be clearly specified in your contract. Minimally, you should ask the following questions:
- Will the school sponsor me for a resident visa so that I can get a work permit?
- Will the school pay for my trip out of the country to secure my visa?
- Will the school automatically deduct my taxes, or will I be required to file independently?
- Does the school provide health insurance?
- Am I guaranteed vacation time, and can I choose when to take it?
- Will the school help me find suitable living accommodations? And will
the school pay for or subsidize my housing?
- Which classes will I teach, and will I have prep time?
- Does the school provide materials and textbooks, or will I need to provide my own teaching materials?
- Will I be required to work a split day (hours in the morning, afternoon break, hours in the evening) in order to get my guaranteed number of hours?
- If I am working a split day, will there be much traveling between my
teaching assignments? Will the school pay my travel expenses between schools?
If you can, talk with the teachers who work at the school with which you are negotiating.
Find out which provisions they were able to negotiate for and whether the school has kept its end of the bargain. If you are aware of what kind of benefits you can, within reason, expect to get, and if you are calm and
reasonable while negotiating, you should end up with a fair contract.
Be aware that schools have no legal reason to hold on to your passport; avoid any school that requires you to hand it over. Chances are they will use it as ransom at a later date.