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Dear Theo: self-employed contract?

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by marcusdarwin, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. Dear Theo

    With regard to an earlier post I have a job offer at a university in China, it seems very attractive but there are a number of clauses stating that I am being offered a job as a freelance contractor not employed by the university and not entitled to holiday pay, sick pay etc and responsible for my own tax/insurance etc. This was not mentioned at interview: if it had been I think I would have questioned this.

    Although I like the look of the job I'm concerned about this as I feel it may be both dangerous and illegal to enter such a contract. Could you offer some advice? I'd appreciate your point of view about this:

    • Is it legal?
    • Should I try and get it changed?
    • Is it possible to accept without placing myself in danger?
    • Would anyone be willing to look at it?
    Many thanks.

  2. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I doubt if anybody on here is an expert on Chinese law. I don't think that I would take it unless the pay were enough to cover the cost of Chinese tax advice, holidays etc, and I were very confident about the University.
  3. olderandwiser

    olderandwiser Occasional commenter

    I wouldn't touch this with an extra-long bargepole.

    Get a copy of the contract in English and Chinese and get professional advice from a legal eagle based in China - which will cost you - before even considering this post. The usual reason companies try to get you to be self-employed is that they aren't sure they will need you for the whole time and can get rid of you with no cost to themselves quickly. And they won't need to be responsible for you, your welfare, your work visa, your benefits, accommodation etc etc. Without seeing the contract, I doubt very much you will have any security of any kind, and even if you have some, it will be very difficult to assert your rights in the event of a problem, being a foreigner in China. There is also a very good reason they haven't discussed the nature of the contract with you at the interview - wake up! Can you not hear all the alarm bells ringing?

    Seek professional, paid-for advice (not uninformed opinions on an anonymous forum) and avoid this job until you are crystal clear about the implications of being self-employed in China.
  4. Tigger1962

    Tigger1962 New commenter

    You should also post this on the teaching overseas forum as many posters over there are knowledgeable about potential employment scams.

    I have never taught in China but it sounds as thought it is possible some sort of visa dodge whereby you are not a proper employee and the school doesn't need to pay for an employment and residence visa for you - all of which sound dodgy. You may also find yourself without employment rights if you are "self-employed"
  5. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    As TES is a forum for teachers primarily it's unlikely there's much expertise about university lecturers about, and even less for a job in China. Is there a better forum somewhere where people might be able to help you? You need advice from people with proper expertise.

    As a matter of interest, will you be directly employed by the Chinese university or are you going through a UK agency of some sort? If the latter will your contract be subject to English law or Chinese law?

    All I can say is that if you were being offered a job as freelance contractor - ie self-employed - at an English university it wouldn't be illegal to employ you on that basis although if the reality of the relationship wasn't true self-employment HMRC could challenge the arrangement for tax purposes. However there isn't the slightest reason to think the same is true in China.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I am afraid that I haven't the faintest idea here! I am not even an expert on UK Employment Law, yet alone Chinese Employment law, Immigration Law, Employment of Foreigners Law, Taxation law, Insurance law.

    All I can suggest is that you ask them to give you the contact details (emails) of two or three (not just one) UK or EU citizens who are working there under these conditions, so that you can see what it really means on the ground.

    Finding a Chinese Employment law expert to advise you will be difficult and doubtless expensive.

    I would be very wary about this offer, myselg.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  7. Thank you all.

    Kind regards


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