Hello contract!

I’m back and it’s my birthday. I’m now 22, which I hope I will remember as the age that I first said a fond farewell, well more of a see you later, to family, friends and England as I head off into the relative unknown. Since my last post there have been a few developments in my plans and I hope you’ll be glad to hear that everything is moving in the right direction.

The first thing to happen was that, just one sleep after my last post and the launch of James Vs World, I woke up to find an email from the recruiting agency with a contract attached. I don’t think I have to tell you how excited I was, but I was excited. Unfortunately the initial elation was somewhat marred by a few little issues with the contract. These were issues that I’ve found are some of the main causes of headaches for TEFL teachers working in South Korea. Here’s what they are:

1) 3.3% tax rate. When working in South Korea ‘teachers’ can be employed under a number of headings, and none of them are Teacher, so far as I can tell. ‘English Instructor’, ‘Conversation Instructor’ and ‘contractor’, are some of the headings, and all are ok except the latter. Contractors may work as TEFL instructors, but legally the school is not obliged to pay them severance (one month’s salary payable to anyone who has gotten to the end of their contract) or pay for their air fare to and from Korea. The tax rate for English Language Instructors ranges from 5-7%, the tax rate for contractors is 3.3%. First issue.

2) Missing lines. The second issue with the contract. There was only one missing line, but its omission means that, should I happen to leave before the end of the contract, after 8 months or more, I won’t get paid what I’m owed. Figured that one’s an easy fix but a bad one to leave to chance.

3) Only 5 days holiday! 5 days! In 365! This is more of a personal issue rather than a professional one. 5 days is the minimum holiday that can legally be given, and it’s what I’ve got. Not happy about that one. I was only anticipating 10 days, but that would have given me time enough to do some travel, even if it was only around South Korea.

So those are the issues.

Having read the contract over a few times I did a few things, possibly in the wrong order. First I emailed Liam, a current English teacher at the school, then I emailed the recruiting agency as I was unable to access the members area of their site, and I told them the issues. Finally I took full advantage of the very helpful people on the eslcafe.com forums and asked their advise in the ‘contracts’ section of the site. I got reply from the forums first, and I was told not to email the school with a list of issues. Whoops.

Luckily I didn’t have anything to worry about. The recruiting agency told me I would be contacted. This came a few hours after I had received an email from Liam. The general message was that, except for the missing line, nothing will be changed. He also said that he has had no trouble with the school and doesn’t know of anyone else who has either. He claims he’s paid on time, every time and although the work is hard, he has not been messed around.

For better or for worse I’ve decided to trust him, which leads to my second piece of big news. I’ve accepted the job! That’s right, I’m in. As part of the visa application process I have had to send some documents to be Apostille certified, this makes non-legal documents, such as my criminal background check and degree certificate, internationally recognised as true documents. The documents have now been sent off for final  approval after Aberystwyth University Academic office kindly certified my degree certificate for me and the Disclosure Scotland office noterised my CRB, both for free. I have heard about people being charged over £100 for the few minutes of time it takes a high street solicitor to do this. For more information check out the ‘How To TEFL’ page of James Vs World where I’ll be explain, step by step what I’ve done to get to where I’m going. Hopefully others will find this useful.

So now I’ve just got to wait, once these last pieces of documentation are returned I’ll be ready to buy a big envelope and send everything off to the school so they can sort out my visa. Very excited.

So that’s it for this week, I’m gonna go and enjoy the rest of my birthday. Hope you all have a good day too.

James Vs World – Point James (because it’s my birthday)

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