FAQ: What Should I Look For in My Contract?

FAQ: Negotiating a Contract

What should I look for in my contract?

I have decided to look for work on my own. Can the Graduate Placement Service still help me?

What should I be aware of when applying for teaching positions on my own?

Will trying to negotiate a contract make me a less desirable candidate?

What should I look for in my contract?

  • Split shifts – Some ESL teachers do not work straight through the day but may instead work in the morning from 8am-12pm and then in the evening from 4pm-10pm.
  • Sick days - Schools that pay by the hour do not often pay for sick days. If you are paid a salary then you should expect a certain number of paid sick days.
  • Reimbursement for airfare - It is important to know which countries typically supply this benefit and ensure that it is included on your contract if it is standard.
  • Overtime - The contract should detail how many hours you will be expected to work and should state an hourly rate for any additional teaching time.
  • Accommodations - Your contract should state whether or not the school will provide you with paid accommodations. If they do not, then it is common for a school to provide you with help finding accommodations.
  • Key money (mainly in Japan) - In some countries, landlords will ask for key money which is often the equivalent of anywhere from three to six month’s rent. This is not a security deposit, but rather a form of gratitude.
  • Transportation - It is important to know how far away your accommodations are from the school in which you will be teaching. If your housing is relatively far away, many schools will subsidize a scooter or a bus pass.
  • Preparation time - The school may require that you prepare for your classes during office hours held at the school.
  • Extracurricular activities - Compensation is not usually provided for extracurricular activities. Many contracts will state a maximum amount of extracurricular hours you are expected to work and may pay you overtime for additional hours.
  • Healthcare - If healthcare is not included in the contract, it is a good idea to look into private health coverage prior to departing.
  • Holidays - Your contract should state the holidays during which you receive time off. Depending on where you go, there are many different and exciting local holidays to celebrate!
  • Transportation from airport - Your contract should indicate if a representative from your school will meet you at the airport or if you will be responsible for arriving at the school on your own.
  • Private tutoring – It is important to confirm with your employer whether or not private tutoring is acceptable.