Contracts 101: 9 key things that should be in your teach abroad contract

So, you nailed that interview and have a job offer in your ideal location, congrats! All that's left is to sign on the dotted line. Easy, right? Not so fast!

I know it might feel like a like a drag at first, but reading through your contract before you start your teaching job is essential to helping you understand exactly what to expect from your new role.

We know that for first-time teachers abroad, reviewing your contract can seem like a daunting process. How can you be sure you're getting a good deal?

That’s where this video, hosted by our resident contracts expert, Graeme, comes in. Stay tuned while he walks you through the 9 things you should check for when reviewing your new teaching contract.

Before we dive in, here are few things to keep in mind when reviewing your offer letter or contract for the first time:

  1. The length of the document will vary depending on the country your new role is located in (with schools in China, for example, offer letters may be as long as 20 pages!)
  2. Some of the terminology used to refer to bonuses or accommodation allowances will vary from country to country
  3. You might not see the benefits listed on the original job description on your offer letter

If you’re uncertain about anything at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Placement Coordinator for an explanation. That’s what we’re here for!

Short on time? No worries! Before you sign on the dotted line, here are the key takeaways from the video above:

1. Salary

Your monthly gross salary must be stated in your contract and it should also specify whether the amount listed is before or after tax. It should also say whether you’ll be paid in local currency or USD, and whether your salary will be deposited into a local bank account or an account back at home.

One final thing: your contract should state when you can expect to be paid each month. Take it from me - this info is super important in helping you budget accordingly when you first arrive in your new country!

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2. Vacation

Your vacation allowance must be included. You may want to do some quick research to confirm this adheres to the national holiday entitlement, and also check what statutory holidays you can take. You might also want to check with your employer on whether you get a choice of which days to take. They might have restrictions on when teachers can take time off, depending on the time of year.

3. Flights

Schools often contribute towards the cost of your flight, either partially or in full. The contract should explain how the cost of flights will be covered, whether they will be directly purchased by the school or reimbursed later.

4. Accommodation

Many schools offer teachers a housing allowance, many cover accommodation expenses in full, and some even arrange housing for you.

If accommodation is provided, it’s worth checking whether you get a choice of housing, if you’ll have to share with roommates and whether utility bills will be covered.

If you get a housing allowance, check that it’s not included in your base salary. Your contract should state how much housing allowance you’ll receive and how frequently.

Does your contract specify whether your allowance gets paid to to you or to your landlord directly?

Does your contract state that you will have to pay the deposit?

Will your employer assist you in finding a place to live?

These are all questions you can ask your Teach Away Placement Coordinator to clarify with your new employer if they’re not covered in your contract.

Tip: Don't forget to look up the cost of renting an apartment in the area near your school to help you figure out what your living expenses will be like when you move overseas.

 

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5. Healthcare

If you’ve been promised medical insurance, this should also appear in your contract. It should mention the period and extent of coverage, or at least how to find out this information.

6. Dependents 

If you’re relocating with a family, a contract should confirm what costs, if any, will be covered, such as their flights and school fees.

7. Contract length 

The majority of teaching contracts last for at least one school year, but increasingly contracts are for two years or more, often with benefits such as bonuses for completion.

8. Contract termination ⏳

Your contract must also explain what will happen if you terminate your contract before it ends and what this will mean for you and (if applicable) your spouse and dependents.

All checked off? Great, you can now relax a little, knowing your contract forms the basis of a great teaching position.

Remember, if you’ve recently been offered a teaching job abroad through Teach Away, your Placement Coordinator will be happy to go through your contract with you, so don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Just getting started with your job hunt? Check out the five key qualities hiring schools are looking for in a teach abroad candidate - and see whether you fit the bill.

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