HESS penalty fee


#1

Hi,

I quit HESS last month and have already started my new job at TLI. I did get my cancellation of contract letter from HESS and went to the immigration office. However, HESS is still nagging me about the “training fee”. I’ve heard from several sources that it’s illegal and I shouldn’t pay it. So I told my area manager that, she said it’s legal in Taiwan. I said no, it isn’t. Then she said but you signed a contract, meaning I should pay it. So I replied that I didn’t know it was illegal when I signed it. Then she said HESS will want the money anyway, so I told her to have main office contact me and I’ll get a lawyer to contact them. Now my branch manager is asking how I want to pay the penalty fee, I told her what I told the area manager about main office contacting me. But now my branch manager wants me to contact main office myself. I have no inclination of doing this since it will be a long-drawn out and costly call with no end. But my branch manager was actually nice to me and I think they are giving her a hard time to get the money from me. What can I do? Is there a legal source that I can quote in an email to end the conversation once and for all? Or is it actually legal to ask this? I’m getting my final pay tomorrow, and luckily it’s not enough to cover the penalty fee. But I still need my branch manager to help me move out of my current place and get my deposit back.
Thanks for your help!
Elene


#2

From what i have read on this website in the past is that contract cancellation fees are legal, since you did sign the contract, however they cannot deduct it from your final paycheck, that part is illegal.

However the company can sue you if you refuse to pay it, however in most cases they do not because it would cost too much time and effort to chase a small amount of money.

that being said, you say you need the branch managers assistance in the future. Obviously she will not be very helpful if you refuse to pay, so you will have to decide if it is worth it or not.


#3

Change your phone number.

Problem solved.


#4

[quote=“dan2006”]From what I have read on this website in the past is that contract cancellation fees are legal, since you did sign the contract, however they cannot deduct it from your final paycheck, that part is illegal.

However the company can sue you if you refuse to pay it, however in most cases they do not because it would cost too much time and effort to chase a small amount of money.

that being said, you say you need the branch managers assistance in the future. Obviously she will not be very helpful if you refuse to pay, so you will have to decide if it is worth it or not.[/quote]

According to this website it’s illegal to ask a penalty fee for breaking a contract early, not just to deduct it from your pay:
tealit.com/fines.deposits.main.htm


#5

Actually the way I read it, they cant collect a deposit or take money from your paycheck, but they are within their rights to ask for breach of contract money.

From the website you quoted it says

“If the school takes part of your wages or tries to collect a deposit against you…” and
"Any dwan chee bushiban that makes deductions against earned wages when you quit your job or tries to collect any deposit for quitting is in obvious violation of the act"

They are not taking a part of your wages or collecting a deposit, they are asking for the money that was agreed in the contract for breaking the contract. There is no deduction against your wages and they never asked for a deposit when you signed up, this is a contract cancellation penalty which they are allowed to ask for.

Will they pursue it? From what Ive heard, likely not, since it is a lot of trouble for little reward, but they certainly can try legally. I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.


#6

I agree with Dan.

It’s been commonly said that breaking contract fees are illegal but I haven’t actually seen any formal documentation that they are illegal. It is very clear that the school can’t withhold this fee from your paycheck though (unless agreed upon).

I can understand having a breaking contract fee for training (although it’s usually crappy) and for visa/ARC/healthcheck costs since that can amount to quite a bit of money for a school. It should be prorated based on how much of the contract you have fulfilled but probably isn’t.


#7

I quit Hess early (many years ago) and had a phone call with the head foreign teacher about the fee. He was very firm on the phone about me having to pay the fee. I just said, “Remember how you guys were always talking about how much energy I bring to the classroom? Well my new job is only part time so I’ll have a lot of free time and a whole bunch of energy available to fight this fee. It’s not the money, it’s the principle of the thing. So if you guys are ready to fight, so am I.”

He called back in 15 minutes and told me the branch was willing to waive the fee. I went in and paid a sixth of it (as I’d quit 2 months before the end of my year contract) so that I had a clear conscience.
I don’t think they usually fight for that money.


#8

[quote=“NonTocareLeTete”]I quit Hess early (many years ago) and had a phone call with the head foreign teacher about the fee. He was very firm on the phone about me having to pay the fee. I just said, “Remember how you guys were always talking about how much energy I bring to the classroom? Well my new job is only part time so I’ll have a lot of free time and a whole bunch of energy available to fight this fee. It’s not the money, it’s the principle of the thing. So if you guys are ready to fight, so am I.”

He called back in 15 minutes and told me the branch was willing to waive the fee. I went in and paid a sixth of it (as I’d quit 2 months before the end of my year contract) so that I had a clear conscience.
I don’t think they usually fight for that money.[/quote]

Nice. Bullies back off quickly when you tell them where to go. The OP’s case seems a little different as the school needs to help her get her flat deposit, and pay her last months salary, so they seem to be holding more cards.


#9

Where the schools plan will fail is if they try to take it out of the ops last check, she can fight that and win. But then they still have legal recourse against the op still, but likely won’t pursue it.


#10

So they pay your last month, then dog you to return them money? Strange. Seems like they know what they’re doing is illegal.


#11

Well usually schools like to not pay you for the last month, then you complain tobthe labor Council who tells the boss to pay you, and then the school usually does not continue to dog you for the money because its too mafan.

Could they do something legally, sure, but most workers have already left Taiwan so its useless


#12

So they pay your last month, then dog you to return them money? Strange. Seems like they know what they’re doing is illegal.[/quote]

It’s not illegal. If buxibans were allowed to withhold money from a last paycheck (justly or unjustly) and require the employee to take them to court to get it back then they would abuse the hell out of that. It’s setup this way so the amount and the payment are agreed upon by both parties without one side just withholding it.


#13

So they pay your last month, then dog you to return them money? Strange. Seems like they know what they’re doing is illegal.[/quote]

It’s not illegal. If buxibans were allowed to withhold money from a last paycheck (justly or unjustly) and require the employee to take them to court to get it back then they would abuse the hell out of that. It’s setup this way so the amount and the payment are agreed upon by both parties without one side just withholding it.[/quote]
Hess teaches kindergarten kids.
If they take the OP to court, his defense would be that he had a good/valid reason for terminating the contract.
I would not give them that money or let them get away with it.
I’d go to court, make it public and as messy as possible.


#14

Great idea. Admit to working illegally in a courtroom. Hess won’t be the only one that ends up in trouble.

I think these early termination penalties are silly (if they are in the 30+K range) but I think it’s poor form if someone complains about it after they signed the contract. Or if they complain about illegal work in a kindergarten when they took the job fully knowing that they would be teaching in a kindergarten and knew it was illegal when they accepted. These kinds of teachers aren’t better than the chain schools that they work for.


#15

Agree with Abacus here, the parties knew about the fee upfront, it wasn’t a surprise and was knowingly agreed on

The best way to stop schools from getting away with this stupid practice is walk away when you see that in the contact and let them know why


#16

This is karma. Work for a school named after a Nazi, it bites you. The only reason they called it Hess, is because the Chinese have a hard time pronouncing Goebbels!


#17

[quote=“dan2006”]Agree with Abacus here, the parties knew about the fee upfront, it wasn’t a surprise and was knowingly agreed on

The best way to stop schools from getting away with this stupid practice is walk away when you see that in the contact and let them know why[/quote]

Personally, I don’t thing there is so much wrong with that penalty thing either.
I was offered such contact before. That school asked for one month salary at 16 hours per week compensation.
I asked them to change that line so it would work both ways, which they did.


#18

I had a contract that stated if I quit early, I would be fined 5000 for every remaining class in the semester.

I quit out of the blue and heard nothing.

they weren’t holding my arc at the time, another school was, but both had work permits. The arc holding school was shit. I got married while there, then switched to an aprc, called in sick for a week till payday, then quit.

I did the same for the other school.

Both had penalties, neither even said a thing about it.


#19

I’ve never had an early termination penalty clause in any of my contracts. But I’ve only worked for technology companies.

Do the early termination penalties match what you would get in compensation (under Taiwan’s labour laws) if you were fired after the same period?

Guy


#20

Usually they are one sided. Part of the motivation is to basically trap the employee in a contract where it hurts (financially) to leave. AFAIK you aren’t supposed to get anything in compensation from Taiwan’s labor laws and I’m almost certain that nobody does (from a buxiban).