Teaching English in Taiwan: Know your labor rights

2015/11/29 17:21:00
(CNA file photo)

(CNA file photo)

Whether it's a nightly cram school (buxiban) or prestigious primary school, understanding your labor rights as an English Teacher in Taiwan can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Having the law on hand and knowing a few basic provisions can provide ample negotiating power for foreign language teachers before, during, and after signing a contract.

[1] Negotiating your contract:

●Important questions to ask:

Is my pay on salary or is it by hour?

What is your policy on sick days?

What does perfect attendance mean?

If I miss a day does it affect my bonus?

What is your late policy?

What is your dress code policy?

When is the pay cycle?

Will it be direct deposit or in cash?

What is your overtime policy?

When will my health insurance be activated?

All of the answers to the questions above should be written explicitly in the contract. Remember: obtain a hard copy of the contract in both English and Chinese, and ensure your copy matches the company's copy.

●Wages:

There are two pay methods in Taiwan, and it is crucial both the employee and the employer agree upon the method used: hourly or salary.

Hourly is self-explanatory -the employee is paid for every hour they work. Pay deductions for tardiness or no-shows can be negotiated between both parties.

Salary is determined by a specific pay period (often by month) and not by an hourly basis. However, the concept of salary is not concretely defined by Taiwanese labor laws, so it is available for negotiation and differs depending on the company.

In theory, the company should not make hourly deductions because the salary is not based on hours/week, but on the work itself. Therefore pay deduction rules should be established if a workday is canceled, the employee misses half a day, etc.

The monthly minimum wage has recently been raised to NT$20,008 (US$612.93), and pay for teaching English varies greatly depending on the type of school and contract (starting roughly at NT$600 per hour).

●Working Hours:

Full time is considered 40 hours per week.

According to Article 32 of the Labor Standards Act, an employee will not work more than 12 hours per day in extension with overtime, and no more than 46 hours of overtime in a month.

Article 24 outlines that overtime is paid at the hourly wage plus an extra two-thirds of that wage. Therefore if an employee makes NT$600 per hour, overtime would equal NT$1,000 per hour.

[2] During your contract:

●Check the pay stub to ensure there are no surprise deductions from the salary.

●Leave a paper trail of all correspondences in case reference is needed for any dispute cases.

●Ensure you are not being coerced into working other jobs NOT listed in the contract.

●Stay in regular communication with your employer/supervisor.

According to the Labor Standards Act (Article 37 and Article 39)

◎Regular leave: Employee must receive one day of rest every seven days.

◎Holiday leave: All employees are granted access to approved holidays. If an employee agrees to work the holiday, they will be paid double the regular rate for such work.

Based on the Labor Standards Act, employee is entitled to:

◎Sick leave: Employee will receive half pay per day for maximum of 30 days (if not hospitalized). Each company has a different policy on sick leave, so an employee should heed those rules and keep all doctor notices.

◎Personal leave: Allowed up to 14 unpaid days.

If the employee is absent from the company with no reason/no notice for three consecutive days, the employer may immediately terminate the contract. So make sure to communicate with the company!

[3] Severance Options

According to the Labor Standards Act…

Often a contract will say that a worker needs to give one month notice before they can quit; however, if an employer violates any of the conditions in Article 14, the employee may quit without giving notice.

On the other hand, if an employee violates any conditions in Article 12, the employer may also terminate the contract without giving notice.

In Article 16, it states that an employee who has worked between three months and one year only needs to give a 10-day notice before quitting. If an employee worked for the company more than one year but less than three, then a 20-day notice is required, and anything over three years necessitates a 30-day notice.

These notice requirements also apply to the employer. Again, if ANY part of a contract is in violation of any part in Article 14 (for employers) or Article 12 (for employees), NO notice is needed.

According to Article 16, once advanced notice is given to terminate the contract, the employee is allowed a maximum of two paid days per week to seek other employment options.

After a contract is terminated, the employee has 15 days to leave the country, file for an extension, or find a new occupation that can provide a work visa and ARC.

If a dispute does occur, an employee may file a dispute case with the Council of Labor Affairs for free arbitration.

These provisions are only the starting points for someone looking to teach English in Taiwan, and it is important for those interested to review the laws mentioned earlier in greater detail.

Also, check out the following links below for more information on taxes, insurance, and visas:

●FAQ -- Labor Protection: http://www.bycpa.com/html/news/20132/1804.html

●Council of Labor Affairs Offices in Taiwan: http://www.tealit.com/article_categories.php?section=arcs&article=offices

●Tax & Insurance Information: http://iff.immigration.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=1217227&ctNode=34333&mp=iff_en

●Employment Insurance Act (unemployment): http://www.bli.gov.tw/en/sub.aspx?a=yjSi8nnR0OU%3D

(By CNA intern Rachel McGuffin)
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