Taiwan teaching contracts have many facets, so it is good to be clear on what is normal and legal when signing the bottom line.
Getting a Taiwan Teaching Contract
A full time Taiwan teaching contract usually means that a school is sponsoring an Alien Resident Card for the teacher. Each ARC time period is 365 days. If a school hires a teacher and provides the teacher with a full time schedule (minimum 14 hours/week) , the school will most likely provide an ARC for that teacher. A teacher may work at up to two establishments with one ARC in order to meet a 30 hour/week schedule.
If you get an ARC with a school, you are expected to stay with that school for a full year. Each school will draw up their own contract details, guidelines, bonuses, etc. If you break a contract or suddenly leave your ARC school, the school is required to cancel your ARC immediately as they are paying taxes and part of the teacher’s health insurance benefits.
Part Time Contracts
Contracts are only legal if the school is providing at least a 14 hour/week schedule. In this case a teacher may work at a 2nd school with the same ARC. Teachers use this method to add teaching hours at both schools to increase earnings.
Other part time contracts do not involve an ARC and are up to the agreement between the teacher and school. These jobs are illegal in the eyes of the Taiwan government. However, they are necessary as many schools need a foreign teacher but can’t provide full time hours.
One note: If you are working part time for cash, the school should NOT be taking any taxes out of your salary. The agreement is technically an “under the table” one.
Can you break a Taiwan teaching contract?
Teachers can break Taiwan teaching contracts. Doing so, however, will not leave good will with your school since they will have to answer to parents and possibly lose business. If you break a contract with a school that has given you an Alien Resident Certificate, there may be consequences.
Your ARC school has provided you with a work permit and thus is paying for a portion of your National Health Insurance in addition to their own taxes for having a foreign employee. If you have an ARC with a school and you cancel your agreement with them (or they with you), they must contact the foreign affairs bureau to notify them that you are no longer an employee at their establishment. Once this has been done, the ARC holder has 14 days to leave the country according to the cancellation date. It is possible to apply for an extension on that ARC before it runs out with Foreign Affairs so you do not have to leave the country. There will be no health insurance coverage during that time.
What Schools May Not Do
As far as specific Taiwan teaching contracts are concerned, there is no legal “penalty fee” for abandoning a contract. If you are leaving your school, it is best to do it on good terms so as you receive your final pay etc. Also, you may need your school to cooperate in helping you transfer your ARC to a new place of work.
Schools also may not ask you to work hours without pay. Teachers who have a salary position have set hours to work during the week. When you are an hourly teacher, however, you may not legally work hours without pay. A school may require you to arrive early at school to prepare, or to work weekends for a holiday event. Schools are required to pay you for this time and the labor bureau takes this issue very seriously.
Schools Must Provide a Tax Slip When You Leave
School administrators may not legally financially penalize you for leaving. Also, schools must provide you with a tax slip for the time you have taught that calendar year. This is the amount you may receive as long as you have been 183 in Taiwan during the calendar year. You will need this to file taxes and get a possible refund the following year.
In addition, a school may ask you for some tax money if you have not stayed in Taiwan for over 183 days. This depends on what tax rate you have been paying. You should be getting taxed at 18% for the first 183 days of the calendar year you were in Taiwan.
For more on taxes in Taiwan, visit our EIT Taiwan Taxes Page.
If you are Fired and Have an ARC…
If you feel you have been unfairly treated by an employee or school or have been terminated, foreign workers may file a complaint with the labor bureau. The labor bureau has been more vigilant about employee complaints than in the past.
Teachers with an ARC who have been fired may be owed severance pay for the time they worked. Schools may legally terminate an agreement with an employee the first 90 days of the contract.
If a school has been deducting taxes but does not give you a tax refund receipt, you can take the issue up with the labor bureau and tax office.