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How do you know if a contract is legal?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by David Getling, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Also, would you be in a position to enforce the contract. Could you afford to go to court. Don't forget that in a foreign country the proceedings would be in another language, so you would probably need a <strike>leech</strike> lawyer or at least a translator.
  2. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    At the simplest level, if they make you an offer to do a job for which you will receive consideration (pay of some kind), and you accept, that's a legal contract.
    As pointed out, it's not the legality that's a sticky point. I wouldn't say it's exactly enforcement that's the issue - none of us want to get caught up in courts blah blah blah, and by the time we reach that stage life is no bed of roses anyway. So for me, forget enforcement, I would ask whether you have reasonable faith that the contract will be honored by the school. That's pretty easy to form a considered opinion about. Talk to people already at the school. Look at how long the school has been running, and how many employees they have. What's the yearly turnover? Ten percent or more is normal; if you find an international school with less than that, be very happy. Above 20 percent, worry. (Though high turnover may have naught to do with contracts being honored, and more with the school and the style of living in-country.)
    If you've signed a contract with an established school, it will almost certainly be honored. Schools don't become established by signing contracts and then backing out. Whether you like the school, the country, or feel like you've gotten everything you expected after you've been there for 6 months, that's different.
    I get the feeling that you are hesitant about this whole enterprise. You might consider whether you really want to jump off this ledge into the unknown. The world is quite different out there, you won't have everything you've come to regard as normal, your unexamined assumptions will take a beating. If that isn't your cup of tea, reconsider.
    If I've misinterpreted, my apologies.
  3. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I have to agree with gulfgolf. If you do consider going down the legal road if things do not work out, then you may find that it is a lot more difficult and time-consuming than you had ever imagined.
    I head of one educational organisation in Qatar (think of big trees) that has become embroiled in legal proceedings, so they have stopped issuing exit visas for all of their staff.
  4. max5775

    max5775 New commenter

    I think a lot of this contract stuff is nonsense. A school I worked at in Bangkok sacked a teacher for very little and didn't stand by its contractual agreement to ship her or her goods and chattels home and nothing was done. Conversely when I decided to leave a school early the Head went into fits about how much they would charge me. When I pointed out to him that I had already visited a lawyer and thought that the school had broken contract I was allowed to leave with no real penalties.
    Most of the time it is just bluster and an attempt to scare people into staying somewhere that they may not want to be. Lets face it most of them see you as an investment and probably don't want to see you disappearing just because they forgot to tell you that your apartment was shared amongst four staff, that the tax in such and such a place is 30% not 3% or that the swimming pool in the garden is actually a watering hole for crocs.
    It's your life and if you aren't happy then the kids you teach probably aren't either. Best for both sides to part company and learn from it.

    Good luck whatever you decide.....

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