Return to Index › China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract
#1 Parent Dragonized - 2013-02-22
Re: China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

I think the "curious" poster is curious to see how many gullible folks are able to go bankrupt for his own personal pleasure. Another sociopath, one we see all too often come on to these boards.

#2 Parent Dragonized - 2013-02-22
Re: China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

Just seems odd that people would want to jump at the chance to show up Raoul's original post. Too bad he can't be here to put these folks in there place.

#3 Parent San Migs - 2013-02-21
Re: China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

Follow that advice, and you may end up bankrupt in China.

#4 Parent Curious - 2013-02-21
Re: China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

That's a good post, Mancunian S

#5 Parent Mancunian S - 2013-02-21
Re: China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract


I am not in China, hence I would prefer the most assurances possible regarding my contract BEFORE I arrive in China.

So, if I sign an emailed contract and send it back, should I demand a return copy with the school's stamp and signature also?

Or should there be some more official stamps?

Or are signatures of A and B enough, to start with at least?

Anything less than this seems pretty risky, but will schools do that?

I'm referring to university/colleges here.

How can you best assure your teaching contract will be honored IF you are not in China?


It is true to say that job contracts in China are often not worth the paper they're printed on; however, it's naive to believe that that isn't true also in the West; for toerag-jobs in any event; and lets wake up and smell the kippers lads, teaching oral English is a toerag itinerants sort of occupation.

Now ,yes, you should get your contract sorted out as well as you can...but don't put too much emphasise on a good contact, or your Chinese emplyer honouring it..no put more emphasis on your own people skills to see you through; an awful lot of of FT's come to China with too much baggage- bad attitude-cussed attitude-uncooperative attitude- a moaning groaning demeanor; in other words all primed and ready to upset the Chinese and persuade them into renegading on your contract. If you have a good attitude and smile at your Chinese bosses, they will put themselves out for you.

As for your contract, yes they should send you two, stamped(they don't use signatures) one to send back to them. I notice, that perhaps you should ,with respect, not start out by demanding things-you say "should I demand a return copy with the school's stamp and signature also?" Try and take a more subtle approach to getting what you want out of the Chinese. Try this-'It's going to make me very happy if you can quickly get a signed copy of the contract in the post to me, please, Candy, and I thank you very much in advance for your kind cooperation' rather than 'I absolutely need you to send me that contract, because that's how we do things in the west!'` We don't want to show any red flags to the Chinese Dragon- am I right or am I right?

#6 Parent dbrownridge - 2013-02-20
Re: China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract


I am not in China, hence I would prefer the most assurances possible regarding my contract BEFORE I arrive in China.

So, if I sign an emailed contract and send it back, should I demand a return copy with the school's stamp and signature also?

Or should there be some more official stamps?

Or are signatures of A and B enough, to start with at least?

Anything less than this seems pretty risky, but will schools do that?

I'm referring to university/colleges here.

How can you best assure your teaching contract will be honored IF you are not in China?


#7 Parent Raoul F. Duke - 2011-12-21
Re: Re The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

The reality is that the possibility of trouble if you're working illegally is increasing all the time. It's a slow process (ALL processes in China are slow processes), but it IS happening and the police in more and more cities are cracking down on English schools and foreign teachers. And the punishment isn't always the slap-on-the-wrist you describe...and even when it is, the guilty teacher is usually banned from China for a number of years. So the only mates you're going to be telling your story to for a good long while are those back home.

Meanwhile, I call Shenanigans on the claim that advising people to be legal while working in China is somehow "discrimination" against people without degrees. That's TOTAL rubbish.
First of all, that claim makes it sound like we all have some God-given right to teach in China simply because we come from an English-speaking country. Well, we DON'T.
Secondly, I don't find it unreasonable that a teacher should themselves be expected to be well-educated.
Thirdly, it's the law. Teaching without a degree (and therefore without Work and Residence Permits) is illegal...and advising people that it's OK to work illegally in China is terribly irresponsible and just downright goofy.

#8 Parent Raoul F. Duke - 2011-12-21
Re: Re The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

I'd be the first to agree that having a degree doesn't make you a good teacher, and that not having a degree doesn't make you a bad one. I know differently from experience as a teacher and as a school manager.

This isn't about ability, it's about the law...and the reality is that teaching in China is illegal and dangerous. It's a bad idea...and becoming a worse one all the time.

#9 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-22
Re The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

Here's one that is interesting. I am told that April 5th ( Tuesday ) is Tomb day. Therefore it's a stat holiday, therefore if your working on that day according to section or Article 44 An employer shall pay the workers wages at a rate higher than that for normal working hours according to the following standards in one of the following cases:

1. To pay no less than 150 percent of the usual wage for working overtime;

2. To pay 200 percent of the usual wage for work during rest days if the rest could not be delayed to an other time.
3. To pay 300 percent of the usual wage for working in statutory holidays. <-- please be sure to advise your employer

#10 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-09
Re tax ememption for expats in China

I am just talking to the Foreign Experts Officer, he said primary, middle schools and training schools are NOT exempt ! As the wording say's " , means high education.including college and university. sorry don't kill the messenger :b

#11 Parent Tom - 2011-03-09
Re The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

I agree a degree does not imply your a good or "qualified " teacher. I know a few mates from the UK with no degree. But, they are ok

Yes, there's just not enough FT's with degrees wanting to teach in China to meet China's demands, the authorities know this and consequently the police so in the main non-degree-holding FT's are unofficially acceptable. Most sensible FT's find gigs in better Asian countries-I have noticed that many provinces have of late responded to this shortage by ignoring the ageist policy of getting shot of foreigners when they get to 50 or 60. I know of a few places where perky 70 year old can teach and even find himself a tidy girlfriend. For myself I stay in China because I really can't get my head around learning another language-anyway, maybe nobody else would have me.

I just want to add what I think are the most important considerations for new people looking for work in China-those are Accommodation, Accommodation and Accommodation. You are most probably not going to enjoy the tiresome aspect of teaching so you do need a self-contained decent retreat to lick your wounds, relax and entertain your girlfriend or any guest without let nor hindrance. When you ask them to send you a copy of the contract you will have to cross-examine them a bit about your flat.

What does it mean when they say free accommodation, as if there is a flat with your name on it already waiting? It often means that when you get to China tired out after a long journey they will hump you around all sorts of private landlords. You will then be asked to sign a lease and give them thousands of Yuan and you will be held responsible for ageing washing machine etceteras that always seems to break down when you have moved in. The landlord will have an agreement with your company to fix the machine or buy the landlord another one. The free flat is just that the company agrees to pay you 1500 RMB a month even though your rent is 2000. At the end of your contract the landlord will go over the flat with a fine toothcomb and say you owe him 5000 RMB for damage you haven't done. Your school/company will be more than happy to extract this from you for him if your original deposit doesn't meet the amount. So, you do have to be satisfied that this free flat is really free and no money is asked from you. Also can your girlfriend (the one you will quickly get-don't take coals to Newcastle) come and go whenever she pleases, or is your flat situated in a teachers' compound where they lock the gate at 10.30? All of these things they omit to tell you (unless you get it in black and white) until you arrive.

Some things they should provide like 'expert certificate' are not worth getting your knickers in a twist about, even some fairly good employers like to hang onto it.

It often does not matter if your students dislike you as long as your hours are not more than twenty. If your flat is good, you are happy with the pay (you must get holiday pay) the area is okay, your girlfriend is pretty-what more do you want?

#12 Parent Lip Stick - 2011-03-09
Re tax ememption for expats in China

China Tax Bureau Beijing. http://www.chinatax.gov.cn/n6669073/index.html

Contact any of those people on the Web site to report school tax fraud. Also go to the local police. In fact just call them and ask them if they can come by your school to meet with all of the teachers and to make sure that everything is in the clear with the school accountant. Invite them in as a guest speaker and while they are at your school, ask them to demonstrate a tax audit. Have them help all of the teachers at your school so that they know where the tax offices are and how to pull the tax records in case they need them. Let them know that each month teachers will be coming down to check their own contributions to China's taxes for a better China. They'll be glad to see you and the school will also appreciate paying their fair share of taxes.

Have a nice day :D

#13 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-09
Re The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

I agree a degree does not imply your a good or "qualified " teacher. I know a few mates from the UK with no degree. But, they are ok

#14 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-09
Re tax ememption for expats in China

The Chinese government just loves tax evasion <-- i love that wording... It's also in Canada, the government of Canada eats tax evasion (people ) with a passion ! I know from my college, last term they hired an African girl to teach. No expert certificate, but she was taxed every month.. I asked my FAO this " Ted it's none of my business but, if E is being taxed, and she's not legally allowed to work at our college, why is she taxed ? Is someone eating her tax money"? Naturally he replied NO NO - I advise him you better make sure the when the school does they yearly audit that they don't cross check with the Experts Bureau and tax office. As if they do, you now made a paper trail... His comment was, they never do... Maybe I should suggest something :b I am still awaiting confirmation from the judge in Gz but, she's busy... I hope to hear something this week or early next week. As per visa. Z visa is a working visa, tourist visa or L visa in some provinces can be changed over.. It depends on the PSB in that city.. I know, in Jiangxi province it will not be done. A buddy was in I think it's Henan. He flew on a tourist visa and the school did change it into a Z visa without him leaving the country. As per expat teachers not having the proper visa - there is an expression in Latin which refers to law "ignorantia iuris non excusat" which means ignorance of a law does not allow one to escape liability. Therefore if a civil court judge with demand the expats wages or not ... Good question ? However under the Chinese Min of Labour law, it is a very serious offense for the employer to NOT PAY the employee.

#15 Parent Tom - 2011-03-08
Re The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

Visas and Permits This is an extremely critical section of the contract! I'm assuming by now that you have already made sure that the school will provide you with a Work Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and a Residence Permit; if they don't, you shouldn't even be considering signing a contract with them. These documents are absolutely required to live and hold a full-time job in China, and without them you will be in essence an illegal migrant worker - not a position you want to be in in China!

Well, I've read your post which contains some good advice but in some respects if I were a newbie thinking about coming to China it might have the effect of making me scared of my own shadow.

This bit about 'documents absolutely required' it does rather discriminate against folk with a good command of English yet have no degrees. Some good and bad employers alike provide a good service, and yes take advantage of the thousands of Westerners in China who are not qualified; however; how many of us with degrees are proper teachers (not me?) I never went to Teaching college after leaving university-I did do a TEFL course for a couple of weeks and I think it cost me 800 quid. As a result I have met many teachers in China either, degree-less or bought down The Khaosan Road who are far better teachers than myself.

I have been teaching in China for 10 years and have never been stopped by a policeman but reading some of the posts on these threads we are led to believe it's a likely occurrence, or that if they do stop you they bother to pursue you, and if
your papers do not check-out you'll be frog-marched to the airport and asked to pay a 5000 RMB fine....yet, would that be a life-ruining experience? I don't think so, you'll get free beer for years relating your adventures to your mates.

You have to learn to take a risk (ni dei xuehui maoxian) or your life can be a pretty boring experience.

#16 Parent Crap School Spotter - 2011-03-08
Re tax ememption for expats in China

Rarely do they fine the FT but it can and does happen. If you were working and quit due to being left without the proper documents due to the school and if you file an action against the school it is then a civil matter and not a criminal matter. The courts will enforce your rights to collect wages that may be due to you but that is all. At that level the court itself has no teeth or enforcement authority to do anything other than to hear the labor dispute and to issue a decision. Thousands of teachers all over China do not ever get a FEC and they work for years that way. Some get caught teaching and some do not and some police don't care. It depends largely on where you work in China and local relationships between the police and the school. In a perfect world all FT's should have the FEC but many don't. If the FT files an action and does not have an FEC the labor board cannot help them but the courts can and will enforce their rights for back wages since it is the school's fault to know and to follow the laws of China and to inform the FT of those laws. Too many FT's are held under water in China for fear of jail, fines or deportation due to not having an FEC. If they simply quit and leave, and then file a claim with the courts they will be paid. If they get caught teaching maybe something will happen to them and maybe not. I remember a situation in Kunming once where the police went into a school. No one had an FEC there. The school was fined some massive amount of money. The FT's were given exit orders, and most of them were paid full wages. None of the FT's were fined. I would not fear the Chinese courts with or without an FEC in any situation. The burden falls on the school or the employer and FT's are given a wide birth in such instances. I would add that this is true if one is white and from the west and it may not necessarily be the case if one is black or from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, somewhere in Africa, etc. Now down in Guangzhou or in Hong Kong you might really be up the creek if you get caught there without a FEC. I have an FEC and a Z visa so I don't care. Another face to this discussion is that if someone such as a FT is married to a Chinese national the cops could usually care less if they encounter them working without a FEC. I knew a guy from Russia married to a Chinese woman and he was on a tourist visa. He was hit with a trip to the police station for an hour and cut lose while some other FT's were lectured and told to stop working. The school was fined about 300,000 and they were closed for about one month. Somewhere in the south maybe in Guanxi Province (spelling?), it is legal to teach on an L visa for 180 days and thereafter the L can be turned into a Z. I don't have all of the facts on that though. Its best to have the FEC but if you don't and as long as you stopped working and are not at a school, and if the school took advantage of you, go after them like gasoline on fire. Let them explain to a judge why they did not bother to get you the FEC and a Z visa unless they were not licensed to hire FT's in the first place and if they were and still did not get the FT a Z visa and a FEC, and did not pay them on top if it all while deducting taxes from them, that is when you need a comfy seat and some popcorn because the show will get good. Don't forget to call the local tax bureau and show them your wage slips if you have them. The Chinese government just loves tax evasion. Too many FT's in China are victims of crap schools and the Chinese government knows that and typically does not make them a double victim. If your school cannot produce valid tax payment receipts for your tax deductions and if they do provide tax records and those tax records are not in sync with the local tax office, hang that school and hang them high! I know of a college that was cranking out tax receipts for their FT's and when someone needed some kind of a tax document to return to the Philippines they of course went to the tax bureau and in doing so took with them the receipts from the college. The college never paid one red cent to the local tax bureau for those teachers' wages while also deducting that money from about 30 FT's for a few years. I did not work there but the people that did work there told me that several Chinese were hauled away in handcuffs. Get your paperwork in order and fight for your rights in China.

#17 Parent Tom - 2011-03-08
Re tax ememption for expats in China

sorry your wrong.. many agents mislead you. I know of act that many colleges and uni put their own ad on sites like Dave's , esl china , they also want to avoid agents. Agents charge the schools about 6000 rmb per teacher they introduce. When your emailing a person in China about a job, the first question to ask is, are they an agent or do they work directly for the school ? If they claim the school, ask them to show their school ID card.. yes, scan and send to me .. Then go onto the schools website and see if the schools name is the same, if the ID card is ONLY in Chinese ( 99% it will be ) email to me, I'll have my student check it

Thank you. What I'm most concerned with is this- I've seen dozens of posts on these threads maintaining you shouldn't work for a crappy Centre, private school and it's better to accept less money and work for a state middle school; however, I have never come across a state middle school in China which employs FT's directly-can you name one? If you want to work in a middle school you will have to seek employment with the likes of (to give an example) arch-baddy like Yuncheng IELTS.

It's all good assertive stuff to suggest to newbie want to be teachers that they should ask foreign employers for this or that proof but it's a big ask, many of them are only just adults, 22 year olds-you can even put a good school off if they think you too bolshy.

It's not just in China that large sums of money are diverted to pay bloody agent, the Chinese learned it all from us. I know there was a time in the UK when if you wanted a job you could apply directly to the company but now that is becoming rare-even if you want a position cleaning the toilets there'll be some agent wanting his slice of the cake. Agents are a fact of life and if you are a newbie teacher it could take you a very long time to find a job in China if you refuse to use one.

Do you know of a Chinese middle school which is able or willing to employ you directly? I know that universities will do but they also use agents.

#18 Parent Tom - 2011-03-08
Re tax ememption for expats in China

No one needs a recruiter to work in a crap school.

I assume the implication of that is that you might need one to work in a good school. I totally agree with you, some positions, bad and not so bad, are unavailable unless you go through a recruiter for the newbie teacher sitting by his computer nibbling his apple pie somewhere in the Appalachians.

I would advise newbie FT's not to get involved too much in how the Chinese handle their tax returns. I had a good job in China once, but the school wouldn't even let me see a payslip. I decided it was n't worth anguishing over, they were paying me 14000 out of 15000-they also paid for a good flat, all my holidays etceteras-what the hell as long as they treat you properly- I mean I wouldn't even get a job cleaning out the toilets in an English school (one in England) because I'm not a proper teacher-I do have a degree and TEFL but a real teacher attends Teachers' Training College for a good few years after leaving university. It's not a proper job or career move FTing in China, it's a long working holiday-so only worth worrying about what really affects you-best not to manufacture agro.

All recruiters and schools will tell you a pack of old lies, it goes with the territory I'm afraid.

#19 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-08
Re tax ememption for expats in China

after careful reading your info, i think some of it is flawed. Under the FXB act in order to work in China every foreigner MUST HAVE a Foreign Experts Book. It is mandatory.. This is what i was advised via the Deputy Director Foreign Experts Bureau in Guangzhou. If your caught, i can't recall the fine, however both the school and the teacher are fined ! As for a lawyer, Chinese lawyers are more expensive then Canadian lawyers.. This is fact not fiction ! The role of the FXB is to act as your legal adviser if you want.. They are to support any breaches under Chinese law as it pertains to your contract and terms thereof

#20 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-08
Re tax ememption for expats in China

sorry your wrong.. many agents mislead you. I know of act that many colleges and uni put their own ad on sites like Dave's , esl china , they also want to avoid agents. Agents charge the schools about 6000 rmb per teacher they introduce. When your emailing a person in China about a job, the first question to ask is, are they an agent or do they work directly for the school ? If they claim the school, ask them to show their school ID card.. yes, scan and send to me .. Then go onto the schools website and see if the schools name is the same, if the ID card is ONLY in Chinese ( 99% it will be ) email to me, I'll have my student check it :D

#21 Parent Crap School Spotter - 2011-03-07
Re tax ememption for expats in China

The criminal aspect only applies in China if they physically catch you working on the job. If you leave and then go after the school and did not have an FEC it is a labor dispute without criminal culpability against the teacher. If an employer illegally taxed you and/or did not compensate you, they will be prosecuted by the courts. If you don't have an FEC and they taxed you anyway that's even better because it is totally illegal for them to tax you and it is impossible to tax you without having an FEC since the taxes cannot be reported properly without one. Under China law they are required without fail to advise FT's of the rules in China and to process proper documentation for FT's. Since many schools don't do what is required in most instances the school not the FT's are prosecuted. China's courts are getting tired of crap schools and the bad reputation that they bring on China. If you can prosecute your school for stealing money from you, do it. If they ever deported you, so what? They would be doing you a favor. You get a free ride home courtesy of the Chinese government and since you are never going to see your end of contract airfare from your employer anyway, what's the difference? If it turns out that the place I work for has taken one Yuan from me that was not supposed to be taken I will prosecute them too. The schools have a surplus of cash so let them hand it over to the Chinese government. Many FT's do not have a surplus of cash so make sure you get every single Yuan that is yours. For 5,000 Yuan in Beijing you can easily retain a good lawyer. Keep 10,000 on you at all times and you are fine. 5,000 for medical and 5,000 for lawyers. Don't be afraid of going after your employer if they are corrupt. Hang them and do it with vengeance.

No one needs a recruiter to work in a crap school. Crap schools post directly online daily. Just look at all of the crap ESL businesses in China. How about EF? "1-year teaching experience? Great package..." What a laugh.

#22 Parent Tom - 2011-03-07
Re tax ememption for expats in China

my email pay slips

Yep, in actual fact there are many employers who won't even give you a copy of a payslip.

Even though I've been working in China for many years, I'm beginning to think that there are many flaws in my knowledge, perhaps you or somebody else who has kept their nose to the ground will try and pin some things down for me:-

Let me tell you what my understanding is- If you are at home in Pennsylvania, how can you avoid not going through some sort of Recruitment Agency (crappy or otherwise, you wouldn't know) if you want a job in a Chinese state school. My knowledge is this (which I'm beginning to think incorrect after reading these threads) that state schools never employer you directly and that you have to actually work for a crappy or otherwise private company (often calling themselves schools) who have a contract to supply teachers to middle schools etceteras. The middle school will not be your employer. Now is that true or false?

Unless you have the ability to phone up universities yourself, you will be obliged to go through a recruitment agent (crappy or otherwise); however, in the case of state universities, once you arrive on campus and the recruitment agency has been paid (they sometimes get paid after you have been there five days, sometimes longer) you will lose contact with that agency. True or false?

If it's a private outfit (centre,school, crappy or otherwise) they use recruitment agencies and they also scour profiles and recruit themselves. True or false?

I believe if you are a hopeful young American and have never worked in China before you must go through some sort of agency. If you want to work in a state school you have to work for a money-grabbing teacher supplier (say money grabbing because i think they're all like that) True or false? i think if you are a newbie you just have to hope for the best and suck it and see. Bad experiences in China in a way are a must-character-building.

I only work for universities but because I know lots of people (other FT's) and speak Mandarin I can avoid even the transient agent- otherwise, get ye to a crappy agent young man-but read these threads of warning first and ignore them at your peril.

So, that's my knowledge which may be incomplete. It would be good advice if somebody answered me How to avoid working for a money-grabbing middle school FT supplier if i want to work in a state school and how to have nowt to do with recruitment agencies, be they just recruiters or recruiter/employers.

#23 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-07
Re tax ememption for expats in China

This is the exact reason why i publish this topic. If anyone is reading this, and you don't hold a valid Foreign Experts Certificate you allow yourself to be held criminally, and deportation with a fine.. Your choice not mine

#24 Parent Unhappy Camper - 2011-03-07
Re tax ememption for expats in China

Yes I agree that it is worth pursuing. Many bad schools take FT's for a ride on earnings and benefits while pretending to befriend them and the disgusting part is many FT's kiss up to the Chinese owners like little babies sucking their thumbs. Millions of dollars are being pumped into corrupt Chinese school owners pockets annually buy scum that either bow down and let them do that to them, or the scum that does it gets away with it because FT's don't know the difference. Many a bad school in China often think that they have something on the ball, when in fact they have no damn idea that a foot is about to be put deep in their rear ends. The cops that stopped me the other day and asked for my passport were also asking many questions about my wages and taxes that were being deducted from my wages by the business and one can only imagine that they are on a tax evasion case. At the place where I work which is known for fraud and illegal hiring practices, tax evasion on some of the FT's that for whatever reason are still working here for more than 3-years is likely rampant. I doubt that most of them have much choice since they most likely could not find a job anywhere else and they had some sense of false security. Little do they know that they are victims and once the government enters into the picture, the false sense of security will end too. Anyone that supports a bad school is just as bad as the corrupt school owners running it. I told the police when they were talking to me that I doubt my own taxes were in order and I invited them to review all of my email pay slips and examine my banking records as well. I have seen many deductions that just don't add up and anytime I ask questions about them, those requests are put aside. Many crap schools can white wash things locally but when the federal government in a country gets involved all of that local corruption does not cover them. This place has many enemies among the Chinese and competing schools alike and the owner is a paranoid recluse that is almost never seen around here since he is afraid of someone nailing him to the cross. He has screwed enough people that it will take care of itself. The government tax police are just a bonus with gift wrapping. I hope that HR here can prove where they got all of their assets from because I suspect they dip into the tax funds too. There is nothing quite like a full assessment of a business tax records and forensic accounting to expose the dirty birds.

#25 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-07
Re tax ememption for expats in China

so you agree it's worth investigation. A person with the name of Al" Capone tried to do something called tax evasion.. I have sent my inquire to a friend who is a civil court judge in Gz asking her professional opinion. I"ll post it once I've received it :b Canadian paralegals are so bad ha ha ha :D :D

#26 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-07
Re tax exemption for expats in China

PS I'm told the tax exemption does not go over 3 years

#27 Parent Unhappy Camper - 2011-03-07
Re tax ememption for expats in China

Yes this is true information. Imagine some people that have been getting taxed for years while they just kept on working for the same bad school and the HR director knew damn well that their taxes were being deducted illegally and pocketed. The teachers don't know the difference, and the school tells the government that the teacher is no longer required to pay taxes, the government agrees, and the teacher's tax money buys a new car. The government assumes the school stopped taxing those teachers and the teachers assume the tax is required as a matter of law and they are none the wiser. I do hope that schools have their records in order when they end up in court or before the labor boards because up until just recently tax evasion was a death penalty offense in China. These days it is a stiff fine and heavy prison time. Imagine the taxes on say 5 teachers for 5 years all earning 10,000 or more per month. How many teachers are just dumb enough to keep working at some bad school year in and year out? Not only are they being stuffed up on wages and treatment, but they also get stuffed up on taxes too. Schools just love it when teachers resign contacts or sign for more than two years. Its not for the students sake or for image, it is for the free tax money!

#28 Parent Kanadian - 2011-03-06
tax ememption for expats in China

Interesting reading.. It appears expat working in China for 3 years ( 2 for some ) are exempt from personal tax. Therefore if your school is state approved, take the English and Chinese version for their review and get back your tax money the school is cheating you for

Inland revenue department Feb. 10 1999 to (99) Beijing to tax (94) of the text transmitted to the state of administration of taxation Guoshuihan ( 1999) No 37, the text on a clear sign of Chinas foreign tax treaties in terms of teachers and researches the scope of application notice,

#29 Parent KJR FM - 2010-03-21
Re: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

Cheers for Mr. Duke! Pour yourself a pint or two and go for a boat ride!

#30 Parent Raoul Duke - 2010-03-20
Re: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

Thanks All!

E-Gibson, I agree that most people who have been in China a while, and around the block a few times, don't need such guidance. I'd hope such folks would come to these forums more to give than receive.

But in the process of going around those blocks, I had more than enough experiences I'd have gladly done without. If I can help keep a few newcomers, or those considering making The Leap, from having to repeat those experiences then the world will be a bit better place, maybe.

I certainly concur with your and Monitor's advice to find out exactly how the hours work at a prospective school. If you teach, say, a 50-minute class, are you getting paid for an hour or for 50 minutes?

#31 Parent englishgibson - 2010-03-19
Re: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

Raoul's got a great post, although many well educated foreign applicants to any Chinese school/center know/will know what an employment contract is/means to them. What they all should know is that China's really difficult for any contractual agreements and foreign teachers often are to sign two contracts, one with the employer and one standard foreign affairs (SAFEA) one which usually comes later, or when the residency permit is applied for. Moreover, foreigners to China should know that those two contracts may have quite a few contradictions in between and then they should know that some local labor laws also may contradict these already enough contradictions. Yes, China is difficult and if I had to choose again, I would not choose it. When I came in this country the SAFEA was none existant and laws were only in the air. Now, when the air is so polluted, some of the laws've fallen on us sadly enough.

On the salary that Raoul's mentioned well in his post, I'd suggest to all that they make it clear what an "hour" means as a teaching hour isn't an hour but a 40 minutes lesson (could be 35-45 depending on schools or centers). Perfect your contracts!

Cheers and beers to our fine employment contracts that've got such fine language in that it makes me cry

Raoul Duke - 2010-03-18
China: The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

The Basics of Evaluating a Chinese Employment Contract

The contract is of course the essential document in establishing your relationship with your employer. Once signed and submitted by both parties, you're going to have to live with the terms it specifies... so you'd better get it right before you sign it! In general, it's much easier for you to get what you want while you're negotiating than it is to change a standing contract later.

This post hopes to serve as a general guide to interpreting an offered contract, so that you'll know what terms - if any - need to be negotiated and changed before you sign it... and when to just walk away.

Let me begin by offering a bit of general advice: never sign a contract, or give a final answer - either 'yes' OR 'no' - during your first meeting with an employer. Chinese schools can be quite adept at putting heavy pressure on you to accept and sign a contract immediately, and may not always be completely truthful in the means they use to do so, but it's in your own best interest to not let these tactics succeed. You have EVERY RIGHT to a reasonable period to read carefully, think things through, and to seek specific information or advice before saying 'yes', and it never hurts to leave the doors open to negotiation before saying 'no'. Never let yourself be pressured away from making an informed, optimal decision!

Also, ALWAYS get everything IN WRITING! NEVER take an oral agreement in China. Written contracts may not always be worth much in this country, but I can assure you that a spoken agreement is worth much, much less. In China, you can safely assume that if it ain't in writing, it just ain't happening. Your school may not be too happy to admit this, but it's quite easy to change a written contract in China as the result of negotiations. All they have to do is type up a written document stating the changes, and put the school's chop ("red stamp") on it, and both sides sign it. The document should be clearly titled something like "Appendix to Contract of (contract date) Between (your employer) And (your name). The document should also explicitly state that terms in the appendix supercede contradictory terms in the original contract.

Now, let's look at the major items you should be looking for in a contract:

- Salary Everybody's #1 concern! It's impossible to put a specific figure into a general guide, given the many different kinds of jobs on offer, the different hour loads you can be asked to accept, and the highly divergent standards and costs of living in different regions and cities across China.

But it's at least reasonable to assume that the salary offered should meet your personal needs, be a fair match for the hour load you're being given (and we'll look further into this later), and be reasonably competitive with your local market. To learn local market conditions, ask local expats what they are making. Get online and go to the job-listing sites, and take a look at the salaries being offered by comparable jobs... especially those in your city or region. Ask the forums what they know about salary levels in your chosen city. Be informed before you sign!

- Working Hours It's impossible to make a good judgment about salaries without also understanding this dimension... the two ideas are inextricably linked. First and foremost, your contract should be completely CLEAR and SPECIFIC in stating the MAXIMUM number of hours you can be required to work for your basic salary! Some contracts have been seen lately that were deliberately vague about the number of hours you can be called upon to work; you should NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES sign such a contract until these things are straightened out in writing.

Quite often, working hours are divided into classroom hours and non-classroom hours. You can be asked to take on some non-classroom duties such as office hours, English Corners/English Salons, sales and publicity work, testing and evaluations, Movie Nights, and so on. This is fine, and you should readily agree to such work... with the understanding that IT IS WORK, and you're going to be paid for it.

Therefore, your contract should clearly state the TOTAL number of hours you can be required to work each week, and be explicitly divided into the maximum number of classroom hours, and the maximum number of non-classroom hours, you'll be expected to work each week. Again: if these obligations are not spelled out in a manner that's completely CLEAR and SPECIFIC... DON'T sign the contract until this gets fixed... in writing.

Some good general guidelines: For public schools and universities, don't agree to more than 16 hours classroom and 5 hours non-classroom per week. For training centers, don't agree to more than 25 hours classroom and 5 hours non-classroom per week. If the employer wants more than this, only do so if your pay is increased proportionately. If the employer refuses to agree to this, fine... don't sign the contract, walk away to find an honest deal, and leave this stinker for some other fool to fill.

Sometimes employers want you to attend school parties at no pay. As long as this doesn't exceed an hour or two per month, what the hell... suck it up and go mingle. ANYTHING else, though... get paid or don't do it. You're a paid worker, not a slave or a servant.

- "Farm-Outs" Some schools cover their costs and make extra money by loaning you out to other schools - for example, a private school may book you into some hours teaching a local public elementary school. Such a possibility must be covered in your contract - if it's not, don't let them force it on you against your will. Not all of these deals are bad, but you might want to discuss and negotiate the details of how they work. If they send you a private car (or at least cover taxi costs), making these transitions is pretty effortless. If they're going to throw you a bus token and have you out covering Harbin in January (or Chongqing in August), then you may want to reconsider taking the job.

- Overtime Now that your base salary hours have been made clear, it's very easy to state that hours worked beyond that base will be paid at an hourly rate that's clearly stated in the contract. It should be made explicitly clear that overtime applies to ALL work performed, not just classroom teaching. It should be made explicitly clear that overtime is calculated on a reasonable time basis, such as "anything over X hours per day or Y hours per week." And finally, it should be made explicitly clear that overtime is ALWAYS optional, with the consent of both parties. Quite often the overtime rate offered by schools is terribly low, especially in public institutions, and it just isn't worth taking on that basis. Your employer DOES have the right to forbid your taking outside part-time work (and we'll talk more about that later), but they DON'T have the right to force you to work more hours at the ridiculous rate they want to pay you for it.

- Contract Duration Your contract should specify the beginning and ending dates of its effectiveness. Take a look - does the contract cover a 12-month calendar year (more common with private schools) or a 10-month "academic" year (more common with public schools)? If it's a 10-month, unless you're leaving China you'll have to figure out what to do with yourself for those 2 extra months... and remember, quite often when your contract ends, your residence permit and your housing will end along with it. If you're going to sign with the school for another year, sometimes you can negotiate permit and housing coverage over the interim... but probably not salary. Many universities have small, low-key Summer programs, but jobs in them are few. You may have to consider taking a Summer-camp job (ugh...) or even going back home until the Summer passes.

- Taxes Even on the other side of the world from home, you may still have to deal with Rendering Unto Caesar. So it's important to know up front - is that advertised salary subject to taxation? If so, what's the tax rate? Any expectation of paying taxes should be clearly stipulated in the contract. They don't have to include an exact amount or rate, but there are a number of internet resources that can show you the "legit" way your income taxes should be calculated. You also have the right to ask your employer at any time exactly how your tax amount was determined. Keep an eye on this... "taxes" can be another way for employers to skim your salary. It's probably pretty safe to say that some, if not all, of the "taxes" you pay never reach the Tax Bureau. There's not much you can do about that, but if the taxes taken out don't pretty much foot to the official tax calculation, or seem wildly inconsistent from month to month, it's time to make some noise.

- "Probation Periods" It has become very trendy for Chinese contracts to stipulate a "probation period" that lets them pay you less for the first 1-3 months of your contract. You'll see language like, "Party A will pay Party B a monthly salary of 5000 RMB per month for the first 3 months of the contract, then beginning the 4th month Party A will pay Party B a monthly salary of 6000 RMB a month for the duration of the contract."

Folks, this is nothing more than STEALING, pure and simple. It has absolutely nothing to do with evaluating you as a teacher, and absolutely everything to do with keeping some of your money for themselves. Any new job just about anywhere comes with a trial period during which they can fire you, or you can resign, with no reason and no penalty. They have no basis or excuse for paying you less... you're still doing the same work, and the students aren't paying less in tuition. It's just plain ol' stealing. Schools try it because too many of us foreigners are too clueless, or too timid, to stand up for ourselves and refuse it.

Therefore, I advise you... no, I implore you, I charge you, and I obligate you: NEVER sign a contract that has this kind of nonsense standing in it... for any duration, or for any amount of money. If they don't like you, let them fire you... but don't let them steal from you in the process.There are still plenty of schools that don't try and pull this crap on you. If your prospective employer won't back down on this one, don't sign the contract, walk away, and go find someone you can work for.

Think about it: do you really want your relationship with your new employer to START with them outright stealing money from you? Do you really think such an employer will hesitate to find other ways they can rob you, further down the road?


- Exclusivity/Non-Competition Clauses Most contracts come with a stipulation that you not work for anyone else while the contract is effective. These clauses are widely violated by foreign teachers, but they're actually pretty reasonable things to ask. And, it's quite often not necessary to do outside work on the sly! Schools tend to worry about two things here: 1) That you not take food off their table by working with their direct competition, and 2) that your outside work not distract you from your full-time work or limit their ability to schedule you as they need you. As long as you can avoid these conflicts, most schools won't object to your taking a few outside classes... and being open about things is almost always better than sneaking around.

- Visas and Permits This is an extremely critical section of the contract! I'm assuming by now that you have already made sure that the school will provide you with a Work Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and a Residence Permit; if they don't, you shouldn't even be considering signing a contract with them. These documents are absolutely required to live and hold a full-time job in China, and without them you will be in essence an illegal migrant worker - not a position you want to be in in China!

Anyway, you want to be sure that the contract explicitly spells out that the school will give you the permits, and will pay for them. Some schools' contracts include provisions obligating you to pay the pro-rated cost of the permits back if you don't fulfill the contract. This is actually reasonably fair, but something to consider if you're not entirely confident in the job you're taking... you should at least be aware that it's there. Also, you may be required to pay for the visa that gets you into the country. This can be acceptable as long as the contract specifies that they will follow up by getting your Permits once you're in China. If the school requires you to go to Hong Kong to upgrade your visa, they should pay the transit and lodging costs in addition to the permits. Some contracts specify that you have to pay for your own permits, and they will just sponsor you. Kinda cheap and tacky? Yeah... but not necessarily a deal-killer if the contract is otherwise good enough.

- Medical Benefits Many university and public-school jobs come with some sort of medical coverage; it's pretty rare in the private sector. There are exceptions, but in most cases your expectations for this should be pretty low. HMO-type medical insurance, where the hospital bills the insurance company directly, is almost unheard-of in China. For the most part, at best you'll have a plan where you pay everything up front, then get reimbursed by the school. At worst, they offer a flat amount - 1,000-2,000 RMB - per year for medical expenses. Some only offer free care at a grubby, minimal campus clinic. There can be a lot of exceptions on what is and isn't covered, too. I had one job in Shanghai that would reimburse costs of treatment at a particular hospital in Shanghai - but if I ever traveled and needed medical care in another city, they wouldn't pay anything at all. If medical coverage is important to you, take a good long close look at what your contract specifies - and don't be afraid to ask questions.

- Housing: Provided Housing The immediate concerns here are the same as any other apartment, anywhere... is the apartment safe, clean, functional, and adequate for my needs? For many expat job hunters, a PRIVATE apartment is an absolute must. Please go to the forums and read the writings of various people. Then ask yourself: "Would I want to share an apartment with any of these wankers?" The answer is, of course, a resounding 'No!' Most of us want to pursue our own thing without having a roommate in the way. At the same time, schools save money by doubling up teachers and many, especially the chains, are reluctant to agree to single apartments. Make sure your contract specifies a single apartment - watch out for weasel language like "private bedroom" - before you sign anything. You should also get specification of who pays the utilities for the apartment... electricity, especially, can be pretty high in the coldest and hottest months. School-provided housing should be furnished and outfitted, and the school should be responsible for maintenance of the apartment.

- Housing: Housing Allowances In this scenario you are responsible for getting your own apartment, and the school pays you a monthly stipend for rent. There are a couple of things to consider with this. One, does the stipend cover at least most of your monthly rent? Doesn't necessarily have to cover all of it, but it should come close. Some schools offer allowences that are well under actual local rental costs for expat-friendly housing - and you need to know this before you sign on. Do the research and try to find the real local rental rates before you sign! Then, there's also the question of move-in costs, and these can be very high in China. In some places, it can cost you up to 5 months' worth of rent before you even get the front door key - 3 months of rent, one month as deposit, and one month for the realtor fees. So moving into, say, a 2500 RMB/month apartment could cost you up to 12,500 RMB just to open the door! If you're not prepared to pay this much (that's around US $2000!) then you need to try and work it out with your school. Some schools will pay some of the costs for you, and some will loan you the money and pro-rate it over your future paychecks. So, before taking that allowance, make sure you can actually afford what it entails.

You can read more details about Chinese apartments at raoulschinasaloon.com

- Airfare Reimbursement/End-Of-Contract Bonus These are really the same thing. This used to cover the full round-trip cost of travel to and from China, but then the price of a one-way ticket became more commonly seen. Now, some schools only offer a token amount - a few hundred RMB - or even none at all. If you really need this bonus to fund your flight home, or an inter-city move, then make sure the bonus is adequate for your needs. Otherwise, you might want to consider - if the school doesn't give this bonus but pays a premium salary, you might come out better financially with the higher salary.

Note that if your school ever decides to rip you off, this bonus will be one thing certain to go. But if the salary is too low to allow savings, then this bonus is a must.

- Holidays Contracts at public institutions will generally offer a lot more holiday time than those at private schools. You want to check a few things here. First, make sure that you don't end up making up all those "holidays" by working extra days - typically on weekends or your other normal days off. Be aware that this is a very common practice in China and almost impossible to completely avoid, but you can at least avoid excessive use of it. Also, bear in mind that Chinese holidays can be quite long, especially for public school and university teachers - a month or more for Spring Festival, and two months or more in the Summer. Holiday periods can sometimes be largely unpaid or paid at a much lower rate, so read the contract carefully and be sure your budget can endure the offer you're getting.

- Chinese Lessons In reality, at many schools these never actually happen, even if they're in your contract. Even when they are offered, the quality of the classes is notoriously bad... admittedly often due to the students not taking it very seriously. Don't let this be a deal-breaker or a point of contention. It's easy and cheap (sometimes free) to find Chinese classes and tutors in China.

- Internet Access Often specified in contracts, but all too often what they mean is you can use the internet at a desk in the school offices, typically on a slow, virus-ridden, vastly over-burdened, and heavily-firewalled campus network. Increasingly, more schools are providing network access in campus housing, and some will even give you the use of a computer at home. If internet use is important to you - which kind of goes without saying, with you teaching in a foreign country - then you should be clear on what's available to you. In most cities high-speed internet can be installed in an apartment for a very reasonable cost, but if you're in campus housing they may not take kindly to your bringing in an outside internet access.

- Miscellaneous Small Stipends Many contracts, especially public school and university contracts, tack on a variety of small stipends, in various fiddling amounts and for a variety of reasons- travel, phone use, food costs, medical expenses, and so on. They're a way public schools can sweeten contracts where the salary is heavily regulated. Generally, these things won't make much impact on your life one way or the other, and aren't worth quibbling over.

- Curfews and Travel Restrictions A few schools - invariably those with campus housing - will impose a curfew on teachers, with gates being barred and doors being locked after a certain point. Other schools will try and require you to notify them any time you leave the area. These, of course, can't be accepted under any circumstances... they are either negotiated away or walked away from or in the latter case simply ignored. You're a big kid now, right? If you're in school housing, you need to ask in advance about any such limitations on your freedom of action, even if they're not specified in the contract!

- Morality Clauses Many contracts come laden with a lot of language about moral conduct (ie Not Sleeping With Students), observing cultural mores, not proselytizing, observing the laws of the land, and so on. Most of these are actually reasonable, and in most cases this language doesn't mean much anyway. Most schools are simply not going to invest all that much into seeing what you're up to all the time. At the most, they'll make you easier to prosecute if, say, the entire Junior Girls' Glee Club turns up pregnant, you naughty monkey you. If you see something you find too restrictive in these clauses, try and negotiate it out. Otherwise, just accept these as part of working in China.

If you're satisfied on all these points that apply to you, then you just might have a good contract. Congratulations!

If you need help or support on contract matters, that's part of why places like ESL Teachers Board and Raoul's China Saloon are here. Come talk to us!

About The Author: Raoul Duke hails from one of those American states where most residents are 3rd cousins or closer. He is the former US Ambassador to Neptune. A world-renowned expert in Slang & Colloquial Esperanto, he is also noted as a leading connoisseur of Canadian fortified wines. Before coming to China, he had a distinguished career as choreographer for hundreds of industrial training films. Today, he ekes out a miserable existence as an English shouter at some dodgy school or other, and was the DJ and Marketing Gargoyle for Suzhou's Shamrock Bar. To atone for the sins of past lives, he serves as Benevolent Despot at Raouls China Saloon (http://www.raoulschinasaloon.com), an online forum where the seriously deranged can get the counseling, support, and recipes they so desperately need. He relaxes by raising purebred silverfish and randomly planting land mines.

[Edited by Administrator (admin) Sat, 14 May 2011, 03:45 AM]

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