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Quitting a university job before holidays question
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chinatimes



Joined: 27 May 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:39 am    Post subject: Quitting a university job before holidays question Reply with quote

Actually, it's a debate, quit or get fired? If you work at a university, they give a lot of paid holiday time. I would get 2 months of salary at the university I am at (January and February), but we are at odds with one other. There has also been miscommunication.

So, they would rather get another teacher, and I am assuming not pay me for the January and February holiday. How much of an argument can I make to get holiday paid time? Can they just work you 1 semester and fire you, no cost to them? If they gave notice now, then one month later would be before January. So far, they haven't given me notice, and if they feel they legally need to I would assume that will come soon. I have gone to the school departments and talked with the teachers stating I still want to work regardless of the past issues with the school.

The classes I teach are fine, the students are good, and that's not where the problem lies. It's in the administrative division. If the opportunity arises, I can avoid them and simply do my classes next semester. I am not in a bad situation otherwise.

In the past when a problem came up, I got a parting offer and just took it. This time, it seems like I should fight for some holiday money if possible. If it is too much trouble, then I will just find another school, try to get a higher salary and then get some of the February holiday off I assume will happen with all schools.

It's not the end of the world, but I wasn't planning on moving this soon. I was planning on seeing the school year through. What are your opinions?


Last edited by chinatimes on Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Javelin of Radiance



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1187
Location: The West

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you quit or get fired at the end of the first term you're done. You're not entitled to any salary for January and February (this is not "holiday pay" it's salary paid over a holiday) because you no longer work for them. Don't confuse salary with the holiday pay of 2200 per year that most schools offer as a benefit. You should be entitled to half of that since you finished one term.

If you get fired and you feel you deserve more money then that's what the breach penalty is supposed to be for. But the breach penalty works both ways as in if you quit early you have to pay them. Anyway I've never heard of anyone paying a breach penalty either way. Have you read your contract? It's all there.
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chinatimes



Joined: 27 May 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Javelin of Radiance wrote:
If you quit or get fired at the end of the first term you're done. You're not entitled to any salary for January and February (this is not "holiday pay" it's salary paid over a holiday) because you no longer work for them. Don't confuse salary with the holiday pay of 2200 per year that most schools offer as a benefit. You should be entitled to half of that since you finished one term.

If you get fired and you feel you deserve more money then that's what the breach penalty is supposed to be for. But the breach penalty works both ways as in if you quit early you have to pay them. Anyway I've never heard of anyone paying a breach penalty either way. Have you read your contract? It's all there.


Those variables are there, yes. However, it's played out differently at different schools. I just wanted an idea of what usually happens. I agree with your understanding of it.

So, how do I establish a "breach penalty"? Is it worth it to bring this up? They could just make up a reason to fire someone and argue there was no breach.
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rogerwilco



Joined: 10 Jun 2010
Posts: 1187

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

chinatimes wrote:


So, how do I establish a "breach penalty"? Is it worth it to bring this up? They could just make up a reason to fire someone and argue there was no breach.


I think you answered your own question.

You will probably need a release and reference letter from this school for your future job, so it might be best if you just leave peacefully.
You might even be able to get a positive reference from them if you handle your departure in a way that saves face for everyone.

in other words, if they want you to go, and you agree to go, then they may give you a good reference just to speed up the process.
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choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3325
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you're nice, they may also keep your RP active long enough for you
to find a new school, and transfer without (potentially) returning to
your home country for a new z-visa.

so what does your contract say about leaving/firing, breach penalties,
and flight allowance if only one semester is completed?
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chinatimes



Joined: 27 May 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

choudoufu wrote:
if you're nice, they may also keep your RP active long enough for you
to find a new school, and transfer without (potentially) returning to
your home country for a new z-visa.

so what does your contract say about leaving/firing, breach penalties,
and flight allowance if only one semester is completed?


As I stated, the problem is with administration. I have absolutely no problems with students other than the normal stuff that goes on.

Before, they said something about a week and a half before I would need a new employer. Maybe after today's talk with the school they will be nice and give more time, but I have actually had a decent run of luck the past couple years. I went 2 weeks the longest last year during the holiday in April, so I have found jobs fairly easily within a week. I am not so worried about that.

What gets my attention is that they are eager to know about my flight arrangements for the holiday and they are willing to help pay for it. My plan was to go to the US and come back in March.

I am wondering if they are going to use that as a basis for me leaving saying the flight proves somehow I resigned. Right now, they are under the impression I do not want to leave. So, I am expecting some kind of formal notice from them. One of them sent off an email "declaring" the reply to be a formal acceptance of my resignation. I don't quite see how that would fly, I never said I resigned in the email I sent, just that I didn't want to work more than the contracted hours. If it's not worth fighting, I don't really care who's the one breaking ties. I have done it before and actually got a good parting offer.

They could also be planning on not paying me at the end of the month and using that money for the flight. So, in actuality, they might be hoping I will finish the contract without problems/disputes and be long gone.

I am sure they are in defensive mode trying to save as much as they can. I figure, if I can move on to another school, get 2 weeks off or so in February to go back to the US, I can pay for the flight. If end up going back to the states for good, then there is more work in departing, and obviously I will want to get as much money before leaving China.

I would come back later on a new Z visa. In that case, no time limits. I already planned on going back to the states anyway with or without their help.
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Javelin of Radiance



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1187
Location: The West

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your story isn't really very easy to follow I'm afraid. Maybe it's just me Surprised
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chinatimes



Joined: 27 May 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Javelin of Radiance wrote:
Your story isn't really very easy to follow I'm afraid. Maybe it's just me Surprised


1. College and I aren't getting along
2. Even if we were getting along, I would still want to visit family in the US over the holidays.
3. I am trying to maximize my money and decide if it is worth fighting it (legally probably is not possible, but I could at least argue I haven't been given notice yet if it goes into December).

That's as simple as I can make it. It's nothing out of the ordinary, school and teacher not getting along, both sides trying to get the most.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2583
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being paid for the winter holiday is an incentive to those who continue through into the Spring semester.
As OP not doing that, even though he/she signed up for a year, I can't see the basis for payment - all or part.
Similarly airfare if that's in the mix.
This 'Holiday Nazi' says 'No pay for you'.
As you have 16-18 hours with students in a week and maybe 1 hour with admin, 'not getting along' with the latter does seem a bit precious.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3233

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Your story isn't really very easy to follow I'm afraid. Maybe it's just me


I have to agree. I thought it was just me as well. You ask whether it's worth fighting for. Fighting for what? Money for time that you're not there if they fire you or you quit? Trying to stick it out even though you don't get along with the administration? How are you going to "fight" anything "legally"? Probably the best thing to remember is that foreigners don't have a lot of options regardless of what the employer decides to do.
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L00kingforwork



Joined: 15 Jun 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Non Sequitur. Look at it from the employer's perspective. Why would the employer pay an employee over the holidays if s/he is not coming back to work afterwards?

I used to work for a university that gave the holiday prior to the commencement of the Spring Festival. The university stopped doing that because they found some FT's would just jump ship when they got paid.
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chinatimes



Joined: 27 May 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Fighting for what? Money for time that you're not there if they fire you or you quit?


I simply didn't know what the usual thing is for holiday leave. At language schools we don't get as much time off. So, I wanted clarification as to how holiday leave (2 months salary) is handled at a university. I figured it as the first person to reply said, so that issue is resolved in my mind. It is not part of a package deal but rather dealt with on a monthly basis.

Quote:
Trying to stick it out even though you don't get along with the administration?


I didn't get along with them during the interview. One person specifically. They didn't have an English class and wanted me to teach another subject, so I told the recruiter I only taught English. They replied and offered a job to teach English instead of the other subject. I thought they were doing the same for next semester.

Quote:
How are you going to "fight" anything "legally"?


I don't know. That's why I asked. It doesn't seem possible, and I am not planning on it.

Quote:
Probably the best thing to remember is that foreigners don't have a lot of options regardless of what the employer decides to do.


I agree, I am a veteran. This is old news, I originally posted to find out about how holidays were treated at universities since it is my first year at one, and that is already resolved. Thanks for replying.
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Teacher Jack



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 63
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a bigger issue is here is that you imply that you've been fired from at least one previous job in China. I don't know the story and frankly I don't want to know that story, but it might helpful in your future teaching career to figure out why not just one but at least two schools have gone to the extraordinary step of firing you in the middle of the school year. I can more understand a language school doing that, but a university?

It's not just westerners that just deal with things, I think most Chinese will try to see things out without resorting to firing a teacher unless that teachers teaching was untenable.

I don't think you need to be worrying about holiday pay as much as you should be concerned about your quality of teaching and the quality of your interactions with administrators. To get fired from two teaching jobs in China means you more than likely have issues with both.

Here's some advice gained for 15 years of teaching, including 3 in the US:

1) Actually plan lessons. Spend time online trying to prepare a lesson.

2) Smile to the other teachers and the administrators. Greet them with a hello and a smile when you see them.

3) Don't deny requests that you find unreasonable. Smile and acknowledge the request, but then "forget" to follow through. As long as your are cheerful and happy, you can be a very forgetful person.

4) Pick your battles. If number 3 doesn't work, evaluate it if it's really worth fighting or standing your ground. Giving in on a few small things means that you can dig in your heels for the things that really matter.

5) Don't make anyone's life more difficult than it already is. Don't go out of your way to give people problems and try to solve problems yourself when you can.

6) Don't play the "I'm a foreigner so I'm important and you can't function without me" card unless you really, really, really, really have to. I've only played that card once and that was when a) I was ready to leave, b) the school knew that if it couldn't be solved that I would have to leave, and c) the school wanted me to stay and knew I wanted to stay.

If you can follow these then you will have a long career.
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chinatimes



Joined: 27 May 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think a bigger issue is here is that you imply that you've been fired from at least one previous job in China.


Up to you decide, I don't care if you call it quitting or being fired. The general result is, if the school is good I stay with them, if they are bad I look for an exit. If you are one of those who work 1 contract period regardless what happens, then obviously you won't see my actions as praiseworthy.

School 1 - I went to a school and left it after 3 weeks. Apartment full of cockroaches, bathroom sewer smells, piping all around the apartment causing leaking, metal smell in the air, and sticky walls combined with the dirt, as well as fecal matter smells from the streets with actual liquid crap running down a hill into a sewer hole. If you want I can hook you up. You'll love their schedule, work 1 class at 10am, then sit around for 4 hours until you teach one more class on a Sunday.

School 2 - Went well for a few months, the school changed locations, but then they stopped paying teachers, drivers for the students, and front desk staff. It got to the point where the owner was driving students from school to their home and relatives were answering the phone at the front desk. There were 2 of us in the end, and when I asked for overtime pay or less hours, I was either fired or I quit. You decide. The end result was I didn't work more classes than I was contracted for or work without being compensated.

School 3 - I signed a 14 month contract, worked 13, and we mutually agreed to end early because the students took finals in the 14th month and I would have only taught 1 or 2 weeks. I was able to get this school earlier and move in. I lost money in the sense I didn't get the 14 months, but I figured 13 was good enough. No one complained, and there was no sign of firing or "quitting" in the sense there was dissonance. I was very happy to work that year and one month.

School 4 - It has been very good here in relation to the students and English department. The administration on the other hand views people as servants rather than teachers. The attitude is quite "elite". They have a lady using outdated English expressions, she is among the dying breed. Hopefully, someone will replace her with a more modern approach.

Quote:
I can more understand a language school doing that, but a university?


After this is all said and done I can show you videos of another teacher who was here and experienced the same type of thing. I am not at a top college. This is a college students go to when they can't go to a better one. I understand it is termed a "third tier" school.

When students talk to me and we get along I don't really care about the attitude of the school. It's a money business issue rather than good students wanting to learn. Again, if you are a 1 year teacher and look down at those who work less than a year, I understand why you might not like it. If you want, they are hiring. If you want to be my replacement, no problem with me. You'll have some good students and an overly conservative administration telling you to pass students who are absent from classes.

Quote:
1) Actually plan lessons. Spend time online trying to prepare a lesson.


done, check

Quote:
2) Smile to the other teachers and the administrators. Greet them with a hello and a smile when you see them.


done, check

Quote:
3) Don't deny requests that you find unreasonable. Smile and acknowledge the request, but then "forget" to follow through. As long as your are cheerful and happy, you can be a very forgetful person.


Well, at this school I have gotten forms to sign in Chinese. I have no idea what they are and ask students to have the school explain to me. This has never happened before, and well, I am not ready to change. Either talk with me about the forms or don't have me sign them. If it is important enough to have my signature then I would like to know what it is about, not just "Teacher, sign this please."

One student said it was a form to verify they were sick. How would I know if they are/were sick?

Quote:
4) Pick your battles. If number 3 doesn't work, evaluate it if it's really worth fighting or standing your ground. Giving in on a few small things means that you can dig in your heels for the things that really matter.


I concur.

Quote:
5) Don't make anyone's life more difficult than it already is. Don't go out of your way to give people problems and try to solve problems yourself when you can.


Sometimes though telling the school you will go buy what they said they will provide in the contract at half the cost or less seems to make life for them more difficult. They were supposed to provide a rice cooker. It took about 30 minutes on the phone to convince them that buying one at 85RMB myself would be cheaper than them buying one at 200 the following week and would mean they wouldn't need to go to the store (I could eat rice that day instead of waiting a week). Finally, they "gave in" and ok'd my crazy plan.

At other schools, this never happened. Either they apologized and promised to get me it or just said, "Buy it and we will reimburse you." Not this school, there has to be a system in place. Servant A is to do task 1 and Servant B is to do task 2. You should never mix tasks that servants need to do. If Servant B does Servant A's work then chaos will ensue.

Quote:
6) Don't play the "I'm a foreigner so I'm important and you can't function without me" card unless you really, really, really, really have to. I've only played that card once and that was when a) I was ready to leave, b) the school knew that if it couldn't be solved that I would have to leave, and c) the school wanted me to stay and knew I wanted to stay.


It's a pretty good last resort card though. When things don't work out after bending like a pretzel, the litmus test is, "Either do A, or I leave. Your choice."

Unless you are in financial need, there is no need to stay when the working relationship ceases to relate positively between the parties. These guys have a history of hiring and firing/teachers quitting. In the interview one guy was mentioned as being a good teacher and finished his year, but yesterday I find out they felt they needed to fire him.

Quote:
If you can follow these then you will have a long career.


I also look at it like a farmer, when the crop stops growing and the soil has lost its nutrients, time to farm on new soil.
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Teacher Jack



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 63
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, a real farmer finds quality land to begin with and through TLC and hard work makes it even more fruitful and productive than it was to begin with.

What you mention in your closing sentence is something quite the opposite of farming, someone who gets what he can and when he can't get any more, he moves on. That's destructive behavior.....like strip mining.
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