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Contract saying I must pay $500-2000 if I leave early?
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ChineseDwarf



Joined: 03 Oct 2013
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:07 am    Post subject: Contract saying I must pay $500-2000 if I leave early? Reply with quote

Has anyone else seen contracts saying you must pay XXX amount of money if you break contract and leave early? (For other than medical or serious reasons)

I don't plan on doing this, but I thought it sounded weird. Is it a red flag?

Could they even try to come after me for money if I just left? I mean what can they do?

Anyways the rest of the contract sounded good. Good pay, housing, etc everything looked good. The FAO, and a foreign teacher there sounded legit. This is at a public university if it changes anything.

I am ready to go with it, just thought I would ask here first.
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jm21



Joined: 26 Feb 2008
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If they try to come after you and you are living outside of china, it would fall under the enforcement of judgment part of the Hague convention. It would depend on what country you lived in after you left China, but probably not likely...I would think the fees for getting it enforced, even if it was allowable, would probably be far more than they would ever get out of you.

Don't know about if you stayed in China.
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dean_a_jones



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1132
Location: Wuhan, China

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is something like that in the SAFEA state-issued standard contract (mine says "US$800 to $3000 or equivalent of 3 to 10 times Party B's month salary" which is a stupid amount, quite frankly). It also states that "if both parties consider it necessary to determine an exact sum of the breach penalty, or to determine a breach penalty higher or lower than the above-mentioned amount, it shall be explicated in the appendix of this contract."

So what really counts is the contract appendix with all the school-specific information. A lot of these are very different from the very high amounts and also have release clauses. For example, my contract lists a much smaller amount in RMB as a breach penalty, and that applies only if 2 months notice is not given. It is also worth noting that a lot of schools just copy the SAFEA language a bit but may be open to letting you break if it is during a convenient time (i.e. end of a semester) and easier for them to find a replacement. Of course, it is always better to have clear and reasonable wording in the contract itself, rather than hoping for the best.

It might help if you quote all the related parts of the contract for people to have a look at.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3209

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Could they even try to come after me for money if I just left?



They could try.


Quote:
what can they do?



Nothin'
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A penalty clause of some type is standard I think. Not anything to worry about ... again, one should try and contact someone who is employed at the school and get some feedback for how such things are conducted and how the contract is actually applied to a working situation.

My contract features quite a small penalty sum ... but plenty of people have left their contracts early here and never been penalised in that way.
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Big Worm



Joined: 02 Jan 2011
Posts: 121

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something like this is in mine.

What it means is if you leave early, don't count on getting any wages owed, deposits for housing, unpaid sick or the similar paid.

If they fire you...well...same thing probably.....
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Kysorb



Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 251
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Big Worm wrote:


What it means is if you leave early, don't count on getting any wages owed, deposits for housing, unpaid sick or the similar paid.



Seconded.

No matter what contract you sign there is always a penalty clause.. even look at your cellphone contract... if you want to stop early you pay X and your free.
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ChineseDwarf



Joined: 03 Oct 2013
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so I guess it is normal then?
This is what it says:

"When either of the two parties fails to fulfil the contract or fails to fulfil the contract obligations according to the terms stipulated, that is, breaks the contract, it must pay a breach penalty of US$ 500 to 2,000 (or equal in RMB).
If party B asks to cancel the contract due to events beyond control, it should produce certification by the department concerned, obtain party A' consent, and pay its own return expenses. If party B cancels the contract without valid reason, it should pay party its own return expenses; and pay a breach penalty to party A.
If party A asks to cancel the contract due to events beyond control, with party B' consent, it should pay Part B’s return expenses. If party A cancels the contract without valid reason, it should pay party B return expenses; and pay a breach penalty to party B"

So it sounds okay?
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ChineseDwarf



Joined: 03 Oct 2013
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They also sent me some forms to fill out about criminal background check, medical, employer and education contacts, personal info etc. for the invitation letter to apply for a visa. Asking passport #, address etc.

This is the regular procedure? If they try to screw me over in some contract loophole (just from hearing horror stories on here and other sites) and I leave because of it, they can't send me some $500 fee in the mail right?
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The Great Wall of Whiner



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 4908
Location: Blabbing

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just one more tool to prevent you from fleeing when they start abusing the contract for their own benefit.
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jm21



Joined: 26 Feb 2008
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChineseDwarf wrote:
They also sent me some forms to fill out about criminal background check, medical, employer and education contacts, personal info etc. for the invitation letter to apply for a visa. Asking passport #, address etc.

This is the regular procedure? If they try to screw me over in some contract loophole (just from hearing horror stories on here and other sites) and I leave because of it, they can't send me some $500 fee in the mail right?


They can always send you a bill in the mail...even if there are no grounds for it...the real question is could they collect from you. I woudl think they woudl have ot go to court and reduce it to a judgment (prove that you legally owe them the money), then they have to enforce the judgment against you. If you're in China they probably could somehow but if you're outside of China it falls under the Hague Convention normally....unless there's some other treaty that controls....
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WLamar



Joined: 19 Oct 2013
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Great Wall of Whiner wrote:
Just one more tool to prevent you from fleeing when they start abusing the contract for their own benefit.


With my experience with co-workers, it's a reason for an employer to protect itself against the drunk, hung-over, late, partying, womanizing, reeking of tobacco, coming to work in shorts, late from traveling folks that take these jobs.
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JoeKing



Joined: 30 Apr 2008
Posts: 350

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was offered a contract a few months back that also contained a severe monetary penalty clause -"Up to 12000, subject to the situation". Up to that point everything was going well with the interviews - they were actually at the top of my list, and they seemed to really like me too. Pay, hours, and vacation were all great. My number one choice of cities as well.

I simply told them I was uncomfortable with that clause and would not sign the contract with that clause in it. They swore it had never been exercised before, but sent a new contract that had the standard one month salary penalty, which I would have signed had I not found a significantly better opportunity in the mean time.

The point I am trying to make is that you don't have to accept every line or clause of a contract. It is not being unreasonable to question certain things. It does not have to be "take the whole thing as it is, or leave it." Do not sign until you are comfortable.
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JoeKing



Joined: 30 Apr 2008
Posts: 350

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, even if a school contract had no breach of contract penalty, it's doubtful one would receive the last month's wages. So if you decide to quit, do so right after payday. Timing is everything.
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ChineseDwarf



Joined: 03 Oct 2013
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JoeKing wrote:
Actually, even if a school contract had no breach of contract penalty, it's doubtful one would receive the last month's wages. So if you decide to quit, do so right after payday. Timing is everything.


Thanks for the advice, I would only quit if they ever tried to screw me out of money. They let me add some terms into the contract for the part I was thinking sounded odd (the summer pay and travel allowance). So I feel better about signing it now. Although there is no medical insurance term in it, should I try to add that? I think they have to give me it by law in order to get me the invitation letter and z visa they will apply for though.

If they did try something fishy and I quit, I doubt they would try to come after me, I will just rip up the bill, pretty sure they can't do anything.
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