Thursday, November 8, 2007

Five Things to Ask Before Signing a Teaching Contract in Madrid

Many academies will try to rush you into signing a contract for English teaching jobs in Madrid. You can save yourself a lot of headaches by clearing up a few things before signing.

1. Will I receive a finiquito?
If you are given a temporary contract that only covers the academic year (probably October – June), you are entitled to a finiquito at the end of the contract. This is an extra payment you receive when both parties mutually end the contract. It covers, among other things, unused vacation pay. Some academies bank on the fact that teachers new to Spain are not aware of the finiquito and happily terminate the contract in June without coughing up the extra pay. There may be some cases where a finiquito is not appropriate, but be sure to have all of this ironed out before you sign the dotted line.

2. Will I be paid for hours worked or hours on contract?
Teachers who work under the table have no problem – each month you turn in your hours and are paid according to what you work. When it comes to set contracts, however, things can change. Some academies will give you a contract for, say, 20 hours per week at €1200 per month. If you work less than the established hours, they may prorate your pay for the month. Or, they may just pay you the €1200 but keep a running tab of the hours you are behind and make you do make-up classes and/or take it out of your last month’s pay. But what happens if you work more than the established hours? English academies should pay you for those extra hours in the month they were given, but some will pay you the amount on your contract and keep a tab of those extra hours to cover you in months that you don’t meet the set amount.

3. Do I get extra pay for travel?
If you teach classes on the outskirts of Madrid or in the suburbs, you should get some sort of extra pay, whether it’s a few extra euros per hour of class or an extra hour’s worth of pay. Make sure this is all clear before you start spending extra time and money on the long-distance trains and buses.

4. What is the base salary used to determine Social Security payments?
Academies find all sorts of tricky ways to manipulate your pay slip so they can pay fewer taxes. You might get the same lump sum you were promised in the contract, but when summer comes and you want to sign up for unemployment, you could be screwed. Your unemployment benefits are based on the amount you contributed to Social Security. If your school gives you the bulk of your salary in extras that don’t count towards Social Security, you’ll be in for a shock come July.

5. Can I have a copy of the contract? In English?
Believe it or not, some schools will “forget” to give you a copy of your contract. Or they’ll give it to you in Spanish. Even teachers with top notch Spanish skills may not understand all of the legal jargon in a contract. Make sure they give you a copy in a language you can read.

2 comments:

alexcase said...

Nice summary. One little point- if there are contracts in two languages they will need to decide which one is the legal contract and which one is just a translation, and that should also be written into the contract.

TEFLtastic blog- www.tefl.net/alexcase

Luke Woodcock said...

I am an English teacher working in Spain on an October to July contract. I am currently looking into getting my finiquito payment but the academy said I have been given my paid holiday over Christmas and Easter, do these dates count as holiday even though the academy was shut anyway?