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Nik

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Coming to Hefei
« on: October 25, 2013, 03:40:51 PM »

Hey Everyone,

I'm new to this forum and new to the entire continent of Asia so I am unsure what to expect, but I am excited.
I'm taking a job with a school called  and employment should start at the end of november.
I was wondering if the pay I'm getting is fair though, and if anyone has had any experience with this school.
The pay is around 5000 RMB per month, anyone have any opinion about this?

Anyhow, looking forward to hearing some opinions, and to travel
« Last Edit: October 29, 2013, 02:14:32 PM by Nik »
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computer_says_no

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Re: Coming to Hefei
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2013, 12:19:57 AM »

This information is specific to Hefei only. Salaries and rents vary from city to city.

Public schools and universities pay around 6000-8000RMB/month (5000 at the very low end) and usually provide free accommodation on or near the campus. Private training centers pay about 8000+/month. If your accommodation is not provided free, you will need to budget about 1500-2000RMB/month. An allowance of about 1500RMB is usually included in your contract. Public schools and universities usually have more holidays, i.e., summer holidays, fewer teaching hours per day, and regular daytime hours. Private training schools offer higher salaries, but also fewer paid holidays, 4-5 classes per day, irregular hours, i.e., evenings and weekends.

The following is standard in an ESL contract

- They MUST help you get a Z visa PRIOR to your arrival in China. Regardless of what any school or agent might tell you, don't come over
   on a tourist or business visa to teach English! If they can't help you obtain this before you arrive, they aren't licensed to hire you.

- They must either provide satisfactory, individual (not shared) accommodation or help you source an apartment. If a real-estate agent is
  used, you should insist that they pay the agent's fee. (you will need to pay the apartment bond/deposit). It is 100% their responsibility
  to arrange accommodation for you.

- They must provide accident insurance as part of your contract. Your contract may state "medical insurance" but it is rarely very
  comprehensive, and you can rarely get the full coverage details anyway. It is advisable to purchase your own quality medical insurance.  

- They must provide full airfare reimbursement at the completion of your contract (keep your tickets). If they choose to pay a cash
  allowance for this, it will be in the range 6000-8000RMB

- They must pay the full cost of getting your medical exam and resident's permit once you arrive. These are usually reimbursed upon
  completion of your contract, so keep your receipts.

- They must pay an end-of-contract completion bonus of around one month's salary.

- Be careful there is nothing in your contract that stipulates you might be required to work in locations other that specified in the contract.
  Sometimes, little ESL schools try to subcontract their FTs out as a way of making extra money. Unless you want to be travelling to god
  knows where and trying to get transport costs reimbursed, I wouldn't recommend this.

- Your probation period must be no more 1 month for each year of the contract.

Other advice

- Deal directly with schools themselves, and for the love of God, avoid dealing with recruiters. There is no good reason to use recruiters,
  but many potential pitfalls. If for some reason you do use a recruiter, use the form letter in this link above to get as much info about
  their credentials as possible. http://www.chinaforeignteachersunion.com/2014/05/how-to-check-out-reputation-of-any.html
  Avoid sending copies of any ID to anyone you do not verify to be a direct employer or properly credentialed recruiter, and only after
  they inform you that you have been selected for employment and send you a contract to review.

- Your school or recruiter must show you a contract before you arrive in China. They must also sign a contract with you before you
   begin teaching. They must not wait until the probation period is over before showing you a contract.

- Be totally prepared for inadequate or non-existent curriculum, materials, or teaching support. This is sometimes (but not always) the
  case, even in completely legitimate schools which have a good reputation. You may be given a classroom and just told "go for it" with
  little else other than your own gumption. If you are given curriculum to work with, it may be so flawed that it's not practically useful.
  Again,this is not necessarily always the case, but you never know for sure until you're in the job and working with their materials. So you
  have to be fully prepared for the possibility that you will have to create or supplement materials to a large extent.

- Be prepared for the possibility of discrimination if you are from a country where English is not the first language, or if you are  
  not Caucasian, or if you are an older person. Such discrimination can sometimes take the form of lower pay or rejected job applications.
  These may be impediments in  China but are by no means insurmountable, esp. in second and third-tier cities. Keep in mind that many
  private training centers are often first and foremost about making money and unthinkingly prefer a particular stereotype for marketing: a)
  native-English speaker, b) 20-something, c) Caucasian, d) has degree, e) from US or UK. Discrimination really depends on the needs of
  the school at any given time and the supply of teachers in the city.
 
- You may be expected to teach 4-5 classes a day in a private school, late into the evening and one day of the weekend.

- Before you accept a job, determine whether you will have unfettered access to a) a photocopier and printer, b) a computer and
  internet and c) A/V equipment. If you don't have at least the first two, it will be exceedingly difficult to plan and prepare classes.

- Bring your own laptop. This is really a must in my opinion. You definitely need a computer to access the internet and prepare classes. A
  school may provide you with an office PC but it will probably have a Chinese OS and various other crapware that makes it slow and
  unusable. You may have restrictions on downloads and installation etc. Also, you really need to subscribe to a virtual private network in
  order to have smooth internet access. There is a high amount of interference in the normal running of the internet here, esp. all Google
  services.

- Before you accept an offer, try to email other foreign teachers in the school you will be teaching at to get an honest, truthful account of
  real conditions. An important question to ask is: Does the school pay salary and other benefits on time? I would be hesitant to accept a
  first ESL job at a place where no other foreigners were already teaching.

- Before you come, research other schools in the city so if it doesn't work out with your employer, you know where else to look.

- Don't sign a long initial contract! Only sign year-by-year contracts.

- Very little weight should be given to your "lack of experience" as a reason to lower your pay. The ESL industry in China is largely de-
  professionalized, and experience is not necessary to facilitate ESL. (However, this is not true for proper international schools and some
  genuinely professional training centers in the big cities).

- Never allow your employer to retain your passport, original degree certificate or work permit. Always keep these in your possession.

- A wait of about 5-6 weeks for your first paycheck is usual.

- The going rate for extra tutoring work is 150 RMB/hour (or more).

Suitable, reliable foreign ESL teachers are in the minority in Hefei. For little private schools in particular, an FT is not an easy catch, and your face alone will make them money by attracting students and parents.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 07:08:58 AM by computer_says_no »
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x0vash0x

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Re: Coming to Hefei
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2015, 02:08:46 AM »

Some thoughts....

Quote
They must provide accident insurance as part of your contract. Your contract may state "medical insurance" but it is rarely very comprehensive, and you can rarely get the full coverage details anyway. It is advisable to purchase your own quality medical insurance.

Generally, routine healthcare in Hefei is pretty cheap. Unless you have a health condition before you arrive that will require special care, healthcare is adequate. I don't think it's extremely important to have health insurance from your home country before arriving in China, especially if you're young and healthy.

Quote
They must pay an end-of-contract completion bonus of around one month's salary.

Is this that common among ESL teachers? My employer doesn't offer competition bonuses.... But, I don't work for an ESL School. Anyone at International Schools care to comment whether International Schools in Hefei do competition bonuses?

Quote
The going rate for extra tutoring work is 150 RMB/hour (or more).

That is the absolute minimum I would accept. Anything less than 150RMB/Hr is theft. I would say 200 is more reasonable and more accurate... if you're well qualified/competent/native speaker.

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computer_says_no

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Re: Coming to Hefei
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2015, 01:51:29 PM »

- Everyone needs to consider their own insurance needs and buy accordingly.

- End of contract completion bonus is standard in ESL training schools.

- Of course, the higher the rate the better. Push for 200元 an hour.
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x0vash0x

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Re: Coming to Hefei
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2015, 04:26:08 AM »

Agreed. I cannot comment in the other thread, but I want to share another piece of advice that has worked for me.

Quote
Quite often, ESL employers may seek to withhold your Alien Employment Permit, Foreign Expert Certificate, or Health Certificate for various reasons. This is not an uncommon practice but shouldn't be tolerated. It does give them leverage to make it harder for you to change employer. With or without your Employment Certificate, your school would still need to formally release you from your contract and provide a letter of release before you could properly change employer.

Usually the employer only needs copies of these documents. You should keep the originals and give the photocopies to the school, not the other way around. For example, my school needed my Residency Registration Permit. But really, all they needed was a photo of it, not the original document. Keep the originals and scanned copies of you documents, and provide only the scanned copies to the school as needed.

Sometimes, they might need the originals (i.e. if the government requests it to make sure the school is hiring people legally and what not) but this does not happen often. Even in this case, the person requesting the document might not know if a scanned copy is acceptable. So just tell them 'Hey, I can't find the original right now. All I have is a copy. If a scanned copy doesn't work, let me know and I'll see if I can find the original. But, I really don't know where it is' Basically, play the dumb foreigner card and it'll probably work...

The reason schools tend to hold onto these documents is a matter of convince rather than any nefarious activity. If your relationship with the school is good, getting these documents isn't an issue. However, I know from experience that the school can and does use these documents as leverage to get people they do not like or have issues with to quit.

Horror Story

A teacher which had bad relations with a school was looking for a new job. The school agreed, provided he would say he resigned at an earlier date. If the teacher agreed to this it would mean the school wouldn't have to pay this teacher two months salary. The teacher agreed because the only way he could get the new job was with a release letter, and the only way the school would provide a release letter was if he agreed to not be paid for two months.

This is an extremely rare case, and not typical. But, it's important to realise that these documents are important and not to burn any bridges with your employer because they can make life extremely difficult.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 07:48:53 AM by x0vash0x »
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Aussie Mike

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Re: Documents retained by employer
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2015, 08:10:13 AM »

Employers retaining your Health Certificate and Foreign Experts certificate WILL lead to issues even when you are an exceptional employee.

It's the nature of the beast.

It seems that the HR staff of some private schools are under pressure to cut your payouts.  A common ploy has been to get the foreigners to break their contract by requesting them to do things above and beyond expectations and playing with the salary in the last few months of the contract.  They can save approx. 20,000rmb by not paying airfare and last month salary.

If they keep your certificates, they have the big stick.  This has happened to me on 2 occasions in the 3rd and 4th years I was here. 

The first was a bad experience where the school was having financial difficulty and they pulled this trick on many of the foreigners.  I was aware enough to turn it around on them and they buckled but not without causing me a lot of stress and converting to a tourist visa to finalise the job change.  The PSB are very helpful in this case as the school has no right to keep them, the school responded begrudgingly.

The 2nd time was a school who kept my Degrees to photocopy and said they didn't have them.  Later he admitted to finding them as he needed me to teach some VIP classes where parents specifically requested me... I retrieved my degrees but be buggered if I was going to work for him. Still it cost me 5000 in fines for overstaying my visa time by more than 10 days because I couldn't leave or return without them.

Another time a government school purely through apathy, didn't write my reference in time...  The PSB blew the ears of the HR staff and the reference was produced within the hour.

I do NOT let them keep anything other than photocopies.

If you read the fine print on the Expert Cert., it reads this document is your Chinese ID and needs to be kept with the foreigner.
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computer_says_no

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Re: Coming to Hefei
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2015, 02:24:50 PM »

That's right. It's preferable to retain all your original documents. But to do this, the new teacher actually has to be aware that they should accompany the HR staff when they go to collect permits etc. It's not easy for a new teacher to really understand the process clearly, be assertive, and know what to do, esp. when HR are directing them. It's also really uncomfortable for a new teacher to challenge their employer just after starting a new job.

Employers who would engage in exploitative behavior by withholding permits etc. count on the fact that the foreign teacher is clueless, without support, and doesn't want to create any bother. It is therefore important that foreigners have easy access to a lawyer, SAFEA, and PSB. Get them all involved. Such employers really don't want attention drawn to their practises.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 02:28:04 PM by computer_says_no »
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x0vash0x

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Re: Coming to Hefei
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2015, 01:36:52 AM »

Also extremely important:

Keep an eye on your visa expiration and passport renewal dates. ALWAYS make sure you have more than six months on your passport. That is, make sure to renew your passport at least 9 months before its expiration date.

Horror Story 2

Person quits training school to work at international school. Guy asks training school to promise him to not cancel his visa for a month after leaving so he has time to renew his passport and apply for a new visa at the international school. School promises.

The day before the guy leaves, school manager tells him 'We're canceling your visa in five days'. This enrages the guy as the school clearly broke their promise. But more to the point, he had less than six months on his passport which made it literally impossible for him to get a new visa. This guy was essentially, royally f***ed.

The guy tries to talk to his training school boss who tells him some lies about the laws changing. He then goes to the principle of the international school. Asks the principle to try to talk to the training school manager on his behalf. The principle calls the training school manager. The training school manager demands tens of thousands of RMB from the international school to NOT cancel this guys visa.

This enrages the international school who quickly contacts SAFEA and relevant authorities who then call the training school and tell the training school to not cancel the visa for at least one month.

TL;DR - Training school tries to extort money from international school by using long-time employee as pawn. Training school looses.

Moral

1. Never put your faith that Chinese will come through for you. This is a terrible realisation, but one that has held up time after time.
2. Always make sure you're on top of your visa renewal and passport renewal matters. Do NOT rely on the school to do this for you, or you could get royally fu*ked.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 01:40:57 AM by x0vash0x »
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computer_says_no

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Re: Coming to Hefei
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2015, 04:47:09 AM »

In anything other than the most extreme circumstances, I'm not sure the Entry-Exit bureau would cancel a residence permit without having the physical passport, and only at the behest of the PSB.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 05:17:24 AM by computer_says_no »
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