My very first job ever, when I was 13, was paid 'a week in hand'. That was delivering newspapers once a week, but the same system has been commonplace throughout my working life.
You worked the first two weeks and then got paid for the first week. You were always owed some pay, to ensure that you didn't just get paid one day and not show up the next. For salary jobs pay has rarely been on the very last day of the month, but usually a week or so after.
Here in Taiwan there are sadly a great many people who will just up and quit on payday for no reason other than that they got a 'better' offer somewhere else. Better might mean starting later in the day, or a few more/less hours, or something similar and people can be very unprofessional about how they handle moving. It leaves the school in the lurch, and let's not forget that the teacher is what the customers pay for.
When a teacher moves on the school doesn't simply have to replace him/her. They have to explain to the paying customers why they are no longer getting what they paid for. Students don't like it if the teacher changes, unless the teacher is no good.
So who can blame schools for trying to enforce a little reliability if it's done in the same way as many western companies? You can hardly blame 'them' for protecting their interests, it's a universal thing. I don't have a problem with the concept of the penalty, although the implementation of it can often leave a lot to be desired.
I would go as far as naming IACC as being the worst example of using a protective mechanism to leverage teachers unfairly. I would never recommend anyone to go and work for them, and found their 'service charge' bullshit to be totally unacceptable. But, in fairness, the nature of the agent's game is such that it's almost inevitable. (I've done similar work in other countries, and one reason for quitting was that I didn't like what it was turning me into.)
At my current High School job, which I won't bother naming because the person responsible is leaving and new management will take over, things have been almost unbelievably good in this respect. I have taken time off at short notice without penalty, for a hangover! I was even able to tell the truth about it, although I wouldn't have kept the job for long if I had done this often. I took a week in the middle of the semester for a trip overseas and no trouble was made about it. And I get paid on the first of the month, or even the last day of the preceeding month. In May I had my cheque in my hand before I had even completed my teaching obligations for the month.
Although this shows that schools can function without bullying their staff, the school had also had problems with teachers being unreliable in the past. I would have no objection to being paid a week later.
Finally, how about Elite? Their contracts generally include penalties and specify such impossibilities as having to give 24 hours notice if you need a sick day. On the face of it these are pretty unreasonable working conditions, but they are not generally enforced. I've had sick days and pulled out of courses mid-way through without being penalised, simply because I'm trusted and have trust.
Right now I have a course of classes that clash with a new project that is more important. I've told them I don't want to do it, starting asap, and they're looking for a replacement. I know I'll get paid up, they know I won't just drop classes without warning, so there's none of this silly penalty business.
But if I was to repeatedly screw them around I'm sure that they would start taking money for 'fines' out of my pay packet. And I know someone who quit without notice on payday once, and they wouldn't give him the money for the remaining classes. I don't blame them and neither does he. He broke the contract and expected to pay the price agreed.
It boils down to respect. Some companies don't respect their staff, and sometimes that's because they have had to deal with teachers who have been disrespectful towards them. An interview is your opportunity to find out if they are going to treat you respectfully, and if they are then it's your opportunity to promise yourself that you will treat them fairly.