Being bent over


For the last few months I have been working for some people who like me so much that they can’t bear the thought of me having any free time for stuff like this website, my girlfriend, sleep etc. Their solution is to have me work at a bunch of different places, and schedule tons of overtime - much of which is cancelled at the last minute, leaving me at a loose end without even the benefit of their infuriatingly small overtime pay.

I have complained repeatedly and six weeks ago I warned them that if things didn’t improve I would have to find a better job. I did agree that I wouldn’t run out until after the end of the school semester tho’.

On Friday I had a dispute about cancellation fees. I have checked my contract and am sure that they are in the wrong. After arguing pointlessly round in circles for a while I told them that it was up to their consciences whether they paid me, but that I was not prepared to work any more overtime.

I went on to remind them of my earlier promise, and told them that I am now actively seeking somewhere else to go. I made a point of stressing that I will give a month’s notice like it says in my contract, and that I would honour my earlier commitment to finish the school year.

Their response was that if I didn’t want to work there then I need not come into work the following day, or ever again.

They called this morning to summon me to a meeting this afternoon with their lawyer to ‘settle everything and sign an agreement’. As they have also told me that I am not entitled to severance pay or notice, and that foriegn teachers are not covered by Taiwan labour laws.

My contract specifically uses the phrase ‘In accordance with Taiwan Labor Law’ three times, and also specifies that it is governed by the laws of Taiwan. As they tried to re-interpret the clause about cancellation fees, I believe that they are going to try and get out of paying me properly.

Any advice anyone? I have been told by friends that I am entitled to 10 days notice or salary in lieu of notice. If I can be certain that this is the case then I will insist on getting the money, but don’t want to lose whatever offer is on the table by demanding something I am not entitled to.

Having thought about this over the weekend I am prepared to go to court if necessary. Who do I hire?


This is a definite tealit question, nothing against you tmwc

Your situatiuon and option assessment report:

I’m assuming they’ve sponsored your ARC and this is your only job. They have a very strong position at the current time. They can cancel your ARC and you have 7 days to get out of the country. I would look into labor arbitration board that is mentioned in various posts here and on, though I will save you Battle-Scarred’s rant about the evils of ARCs, the contract workers’ plight and the state of English teaching in Taiwan.

Painfully and I know some will disagree, the contract is worthless. It’s the Chinese contract that counts. Most have a little clause that says in all disputes go by the Chinese contract. I can’t believe they sicked a lawyer on you. Y’all must of pissed each other off in a bad way.

I say look up the info on the labor arbitration board or PM Hartzell for the info. They handle this kind of thing. The much maligned people at tealit have a story about how they helped someone with labor arbitration and it turned out well for the teacher. Go to their forum at for additional info or they have a phone number you could even call for the info.

Keep an eye on your ARC/resident visa. They cancel it and the clock starts ticking for when you should leave Taiwan. More advanced counter-measures for dealing with it will have to be devised by yourself as I don’t give away my best secrets. :wink:


When I walked out of my school informing them that I was tired of arguing and would not return unless they were willing to meet a certain condition I had, they called me back that night, arranged for a meeting the next morning before classes, and gave me what I wanted. My guess is that your school is trying to clear things up. Maybe it’s worth a shot?

If not – it sure sounds like you’re pretty unhappy with your school and that there’s not much they can do to remedy the situation – you want to leave. This is by no means proven or legal advice, but here is what I would be inclined to do.

(1) Call them back saying, oh so sorry, that you are unfortunately unable to make the meeting due to lack of sufficient notice but accept their offer of last Friday to quit immediately. If they balk or threaten you, well, I would probably ignore it and proceed to step (5); otherwise you might:

(2) Deliver in person a signed and dated letter of notice, staying only long enough to deliver it, in which you explain that owing to their breach of contract (regarding cancellation or whatnot) that you no longer consider yourself their employee and are ceasing services immediately as per your verbal notice of six weeks ago and your agreement to last Friday as your final date.

(3) Keep a copy.

(4) Include also a comment in the letter to the effect that owing to the lack of clarity in previous communications you will no longer receive any communication over the phone but require written corespondence in grammatically corrrect English or Chinese with a notarized translation and including the school and manager’s seals and license number.

(5) Then go an sign up for Chinese classes and arrange your visa run. Your resident visa and ARC will expire as soon as you leave the country. Alternatively, if you’ve already found another job and they have all the documents ready for you to apply for a new resident visa but your school hasn’t yet cancelled your old one, visit [] and look up the address and contact information for the Foreign Workers’ Information Centre, which can help you get your ARC released. (I believe it’s under ‘realease letters’.)

I’m not sure what the legalities of any of this are and would probably opt for the visa run myself, doubting that any school is capable of arranging a work visa in the space of a week. As for severance pay and notice, I imagine that these could hardly be worth the hassle of taking legal action in this country … but if you’re set on it why don’t you follow Okami’s advice and ask in the legal forum? (Also, English translation of Taiwan’s labour law are available on the internet.)

“When his tutor Seneca repeatedly asked leave to retire, and offered to surrender all his estates, Nero swore most solemnly that Seneca had no cause to suspect him since he would rather die than harm him; but he drove Seneca to commit suicide nevertheless” (Suetonius VI.35).


Have you considered that your old school might blacklist you at the MOE? I am, by no means, an expert on this (or any) issue, but I have heard of this happening, making it impossible to get another work permit (ergo another ARC) and wasting a substantial amount of our time and money.

That said, I have heard of a way around blacklists that sounds feasible to me. It is complicated tho…

You have to return to your home country and have your passport “stolen”, thus getting a new passport #…this makes you just another John Doe as far as the paper pushers go…

This should be used as a last resort of course, as this is a post 9/11 world and messing about with stolen passports could be tricky…

Good luck…

Regarding “blacklisting”, the same happened to me 4 or 5 years ago when I was teaching. My “sin” was to leave amicably - or so I thought - two months before the end of my 12 month contract. However the blacklisting - in my case - only extended for the remaining 2 month period of my ARC/visa sponsorship of the school in question. Once that period had passed, I was able to get a new employment (teaching) visa wiithout any problems. In the meantime, a student visa sufficed.

  1. Do not sign any agreement.

  2. They can’t make you work overtime. Does your contract specify how many hours you work? Then they can’t force you teach more than that.

  3. Go to the Taipei City labor board. This agency consistently sides with labor. Better yet, tell your employer that your planning to go there. This threat alone may make them cae in. I’ve posted contact details elsewhere on this forum.

  4. Labor laws do indeed apply to foreigners in Taiwan.

Labor Laws do indeed apply for foreigners here, but these people sound like creeps and I would get out of there by hook or by crook. I wouldn’t bother with a lawyer if you can manage to pry yourself away from them without being blacklisted. You can go on a visa run, come back and get something new for less than the price of a lawyer (you don’t say your age and nationality). But you might want to also ask yourself – is having to go through all this crap just to teach English in a developing country worth it? You might also want to be a little more clever in your dealings with them. I was able to get a month off of a sucky job once by having a doctor write a note for me saying I was mentally and physically exhausted and the company legally had to give me that time off. This would buy you some time to plan your strategy. Heck, in your absence they might even find someone new and let you go.

I love that expression!

It sucks that you have to be wary of shysters, but that’s the way it is. You don’t have a leg to stand on, you know. Even Hartzell hasn’t replied to this thread.

No one has yet confirmed the content of the Chinese language version of the contract…could be interesting.

Any info on that?? You could also get a Chinese speaker in there and wear them out with rhetoric, or else force them to speak English and just wear them out.

Thanks for all the input guys. Hartzell and I have also been in touch by email.

There is no chinese version of the contract that I am aware of. Everything is in ungrammatical english, and somewhat ambiguous.

So here’s what transpired:

I bitched, reasonably in my view, and someone lost their temper and made a hasty decision to get rid of me. (My students were translating the shouting outside the classroom!) There’s no way they will lose face by backing down now, no matter how stupid it makes them look.

The meeting on Monday was an attempt to get rid of me with the least amount of trouble, and the reference to lawyers was a translation error. They meant to say “After you and I agree how we’re going to do this we will go and visit a lawyer to have him notarise it.” ie There was no tricksy-pants sitting in the office to intimidate me when I arrived.

I was clear in my mind about what I wanted - no trouble with visas in the future, and a bit of extra cash for my trouble. Thanks to tealit I was armed with a little knowledge about the CLA’s arbitration process, and that idea seemed to upset my ex-boss a little.

Miraculously we discovered yet another translation error: ‘we will pay you for the hours you have worked this month’ was actually supposed to be 'we will give you the ten days pay in lieu of notice you are asking for.’

So I got paid up to the end of the month, and a promise not to blacklist me or delay my release letter. They’re holding off on cancelling my visa until the end of the month, and co-operating with transferring my cellphone contract, which was in their name. (I gave out the number on all the letters and job apps I sent out recently!)

We parted with a handshake, with everyone as apparently happy as they could be under the circumstances.

It has since been suggested that I could have sued for the 8 months salary I would have earned otherwise, which is an interesting idea but would probably have meant simultaneously fighting a deportation order and finding it very hard to work anywhere else.

If I find another job with ARC in the very near future I could conceivably get it transferred without having to do a visa run. It seems unlikely and, to be honest, I would quite like to take some chinese classes and just do some p/t work until I get the position I’m looking for. I have a ticket to HK in any case, and need to use it soon, so a visa run is not a big deal.

On that subject: I did the ‘not working til I get my own way’ thing with my previous employer back in November. They simply kept my money, cancelled my visa, and blacklisted me. I overstayed, which the police fixed in about 2 minutes at no charge, and did a visa run armed with documents saying that my application for a new work permit/teaching license was in process. There was no problem with getting a new visa in HK.

Being blacklisted was overcome somehow by my boss, possibly due to my first visa being through the Economics people rather than Edu.

But not having a release letter was a problem, even though I had done the visa run. My new boss spent a week persuading my old one to send it. Under the circumstances, parting amicably seems a lot smarter than getting into a ‘nasty’ situation. I don’t need the hassle, and although they’re obviously in this to maximise profits they have on the whole been not bad people to work for.

I’m just pissed off at having to move on now rather than in 3 months as I had planned. Anybody have a use for a high school or business english teacher? I’m having a pretty good life here otherwise, and disagree with the comment about "having to go through all this crap just to teach English in a developing country "

Finally, some thoughts on the passport thing: Don’t have it stolen. I’m a Brit, which means the next one is only valid for 12 months. Putting it in the washing machine is a lot easier, or leaving it out for your dog/cat to chew on. No need to go home either, most embassies can issue new ones. I dunno how it works in other countries, but I believe that the fee for a legal name change is only 50 pounds sterling in the UK.

OK, I can’t spend any more time here. Got to go job hunting. and it’s nice to be still being paid for my time!