An ESL Teacher’s Guide to Contracts
Contracts in Korea are very important as they are viewed as an agreement to build a working relationship between the employer and employee. As time goes by, the contents of the contract might change depending on the progress of the employee. It is also the only legally binding document as a verbal agreement is NOT guaranteed. The content of a contract might vary depending on the terms and conditions of the company, but there is some important information that applicants should make sure are stated clearly.
Dates of Employment
The contract should clearly state the start and end dates. The typical contract length is usually 12 months, but there are also contracts starting at 3 months.
Daily and weekly working hours should be included and some contracts also specify teaching and office hours.
The contract should define what is included in ‘overtime’ and the hourly rate per teaching hour.
If you agree to work overtime, you may want to get a statement in writing.
The monthly gross salary should be specified and in the currency that it will be paid. The contract should also state the day the teacher will be paid regularly each month.
The contract should include the taxes and the tax rates that the teacher is expected to pay. In some countries, the taxes are split between the teacher and the employer.
Teachers should stay up to date with the tax regulations in their own home countries and remember to file taxes accordingly.
Vacation, Holidays, and Sick Days
Make sure the vacation days and holidays are listed and be sure to research the national holiday entitlement for that country.
While most employers have set vacation times, some employers allow teachers to choose their own vacations. (National holidays do not qualify as vacation days, and each country has different policies on how many vacation days must be allotted.)
Unfortunately, not all contracts include sick days. If sick days are not allotted, ask what may be done when a teacher is feeling too sick to work.
If airfare is offered, make sure that it is listed in the contract. The employer may purchase a ticket for the teacher or the teacher may be reimbursed later, with the latter being more common. For reimbursements, check when the ticket will be reimbursed, the currency, and whether the monetary value stated is before or after tax.
Accommodation or a Housing Stipend
If accommodation or a housing stipend is allotted, it should be included in the contract. The employer may choose to provide housing or money for rent. Ask about maintenance fees and utilities.
The housing stipend should specify the currency and whether it is after or before tax and whether the teacher will need to pay a housing deposit.
The contract should also state when and how the teacher may expect to receive the stipend monthly. The housing stipend should not be included in the base salary. If a housing stipend is given, ask the employer to help find safe accommodation.
Housing in Korea
Health and Medical Insurance
In certain countries, employers must provide health and medical insurance. Health and medical insurance may cover medical, dental, or accidental coverage or a combination of the three.
If health and medical insurance are covered, the employer may pay for all of it or the employer may pay half. Be sure to ask the employer if the insurance covers international hospitals as well as local hospitals.
If a bonus is offered, the contract should state the monetary amount and how it will be calculated upon the completion of the teacher’s work contract. Some countries must legally pay a bonus for a certain amount of time worked and must be calculated according to the law.
Pension and Retirement Plans
Several countries require employers to pay into a pension, or retirement plan. In most cases, the employer pays half and the teacher pays the other half. Depending on a teacher’s citizenship and the agreement with the teacher’s home country, the pension can be claimed at the completion of the contract.
In some cases where a teacher’s home country and work country do not have an agreement regarding pension and retirement plans, teachers can simply receive the money that was set aside in their monthly salary.
Should an employer or an employee wish to terminate a contract, the expectations for what happens after termination must be written in the contract.
On the employer’s side, legitimate reasons for possible termination should be specified.
Other clauses may be added in a contract and may include the following:
Preparation Time/ Teacher Training
A teacher should have allotted preparation time to adequately prepare for classes.
If teachers are offered training, the contract should specify the period of training and whether it will be paid or unpaid.
Duties and Responsibilities
Daily duties and responsibilities help teachers understand the daily grind and what is expected.
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