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Accommodation allowance & duplication of benefits package.

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by j_bennison, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    Hi, i'm hoping you guys can help me with some advice.

    My girlfriend and I are moving to China in the summer and my employer (non education) is willing to pay some of the apartment costs. My partner has secured a job at an International school in Shenzhen (Head of Primary) and at the interview they said that they could offer an apartment near school or perhaps payment of accommodation allowance, we had the contract come through yesterday and it mentions nothing about the payment accommodation allowance.

    We are not married and yet they are claiming that we can only use either my benefits package or her benefits package , they will not duplicate them if we take my companies package. This seems wrong to me as we are both technically single?

    Do any of you know what kind of accommodation allowance international schools in Shenzhen pay for a Head of Primary or leadership role?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. 576

    576 Established commenter

    It's not wrong. Being 'technically single' doesn't change the fact that you seem to be planning to share accommodation. Why should you be paid twice for one thing?
  3. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    Because her housing allowance is completely separate to my housing allowance as we are not married. I am not dependent on her and vice versa. If she was moving to China alone they would pay housing allowance for her accommodation so how can it possible be seen as duplication of benefits if we are using that money to pay for accommodation.

    We are not intending to make money from this, it's just that we ideally need to live in a certain area and accommodation is expensive so will require the combined allowances from both companies.
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    I have seen this once before, and they both had apartments. That was the only way they would get around it. It is extremely commonplace for schools to have the double payment issue in their contracts.
  5. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    It seems utterly ridiculous. She told them at the interview that we would need to live in the middle of our workplaces and that to do so she would require housing allowance instead of an apartment. They even offered her a driver to take her to school and the job of Head of Primary instead of a class teacher that she was interviewing for. If they want her that much then they should make exceptions to the standard contracts.

    We will have to contact them and try to work it out somehow.
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Best of luck, but im willing to put money on the outcome right now.
  7. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    Thanks. If they are unwilling to make an exception then we shall ask for a pay increase. If they refuse that then they can find another Head of Primary.
  8. Booker_d

    Booker_d New commenter

    You should each be getting accomodation paid/supplied seperately as you are unmarried.

    This would change if you got married. It should then become a joint payment. Or only one of your employers giving you an allowance.
  9. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    So if we are each given an accommodation allowance we should be able to combine it so that we can in a suitable location that allows us to both get to work easily. It makes no difference to the school at all.
  10. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    In Beijing my wife and I both received housing allowances from our respective schools. This was a few years ago and policies do differ by province, location, etc.
  11. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    Were you able to use the allowance to live where you chose?
  12. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    This is a good indication of the quality or lack of it with regard to the of your gf will be employed in.
  13. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    So they interviewed her for a teaching job and then offered her Head of Primary? Does that not sound a bit odd? I mean I presume that she has suitable experience and qualifications for the role but still.

    I was interviewed recently for a role at another school in our city. There was some discussion about benefits. Had I got the job my husband and I would have been working at different schools. Our allowances would either have come from one school or the other, not both. It's not an uncommon situation. We've had teachers here who's partners worked for companies or the trade office and they were not entitled to school benefits, only salary. They call it double dipping.

    Weirdly though, it used to be that unmarried teaching couples at my school could get separate allowances even if they lived together. I think they've changed that now.

    I don't think there is one set rule for these things. Seems like it's whatever you're able to negotiate.
    576 and blueskydreaming like this.
  14. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    They were impressed with her and the Head of Primary school was available so they offered her this as you the experience and qualifications. I have to doubts as to the integrity of the school as it has a very well respected school in England but it seems that there has been some lack of communication from the interview process through to writing the contract.

    It's a strange situation because if we were to get married and I claimed on her benefits it would cost them double in healthcare and flights home etc whilst also paying for the accommodation. As it stands we simply want the accommodation allowance!
  15. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    It is morally wrong, but there is nothing in Chinese law stating that foreigners must be given a housing allowance or accommodation for international school or training school jobs.

    All you can do is attempt to renegotiate the terms of this contract.

    Be aware that in China your housing allowance is tax free ONLY IF your landlord supplies the monthly receipt proving that he's paid tax on his rental income from that property. You'll have to pay his tax for him though (it's something like 5% of the rental value per month). There is no standard housing allowance amount that schools offer, it seems to differ according to the school and area.

    If you were to get a salary increase to cover the rent then this would be subject to tax at 22-25%, something like that depending on your salary.

    Property in Shenzhen can be very expensive compared to some other cities. What area in Shenzhen are we talking about?

    PM me if you want info on Shenzhen, as I currently live here.

    I'd also say that alarm bells would ring for me, as @ejclibrarian says. First of all, for offering the head of primary role to someone who applied to be a teacher, and secondly for being such utter cheapskates.

    Read some of the threads on here on China - lots of schools being opened by businessmen who have no clue or interest in education.
  16. j_bennison

    j_bennison New commenter

    She is already Head of Primary at her school in the UK. This a brand new school that is opening in SZ and they had to recruit all of the staff this summer, so I'm not surprised they offered here the role. There really is not concern over the quality or integrity of the school, it's one of the best in the UK!

    I don't mind paying 5% tax for a landlord.

    There may be some confusion from what was said at the interview and what is offered in standard contracts. Like you said, we will have to renegotiate the contract to ensure our accommodation expenses are covered.

    We are looking to rent in Nanshan, so Houhai or maybe near OCT/Window of the world as these are near to line 11 which allows us both to get to work easily. Do think something like this is about the right cost for the size/quality of the property?

    Thanks for clarifying the fact that different schools offer different amounts of housing allowance. I just wanted an idea so that I could use it as a guide on what we should really looking to negotiate as part of the contract.
  17. 576

    576 Established commenter

    Why is this morally wrong?
  18. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I think it's wrong to not give someone a housing allowance when you do give one to your other employees, and to try to worm out of paying it by claiming that their partner's allowance should cover it instead - why treat employees differently?

    If the OP had met their partner in China, and moved in together in the second year of their contract, the school would not be aware of their personal life. Of course only one person would be able to claim their rent as tax free, or 50/50, and the school couldn't suddenly remove the OP's housing allowance in this circumstance because it would be written into the contract/offer. What would the OP do if they broke up with their partner during their contract? No housing allowance would be given, because it's not in the contract. What if the partner's company decided that they wouldn't give a housing allowance, and expected the school to give one instead? It's petty, and cheap, for an employer to behave this way.

    But why are you asking me to explain my views on morality? How does this have any bearing on the question asked by the OP? If my opinions differ to yours then so what? Why does it require commenting on? Have you not learned from living and working abroad that people all around the world are different and have different ideas, backgrounds and views?
  19. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    You brought up morals. Not us.
  20. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Also interesting how your last paragraph is about the lack of education of people who don’t realize there are multiple ways to look at the same thing.

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