Breaking contract from job with penalties

Hi all, I’ve been in Taiwan about six months now and signed a contract to teach at a buxiban (I know). All seemed to be okay but long story short I am not very happy here, primarily though I have been diagnosed with a long-term medical issue since arriving. While Taiwan’s healthcare is celebrated I find having to navigate it without speaking proficient Chinese to be a major stress and would much rather be in my home country for this, especially as I have weekly exams at the hospital. The buxiban I work at is okay in some regards, pay is decent, coworkers are nice for the most part but management is woefully inept and despite having less foreign teachers than ever before due to COVID they actively treat us terribly. They constantly lie about the contract I signed and make even the simplest of requests into nightmarish ordeals to try and dissuade me or anyone else from asking, as such I am expecting trouble if I tell them I intend to leave.

In the contract it states that if I break contract I owe them upwards of $25,000ntd, however this is contained within the same contract that states the school will withhold several weeks’ pay when I first start teaching and this money will be returned at the end of the contract - this is illegal. Additionally, the school has me working at several locations despite my ARC having only a single registered working address, another illegal practice.

My plan is to tell them I wish to leave due to medical reasons and hope they will return the money they owe and overlook the fine for breaking contract due to the circumstances. In all likelihood I doubt this will happen and it will be a big back-and-forth, so I intend to apply pressure regarding the illegal practices if this happens and see where that puts me.

I was curious to know what people here think of this and how they might handle this situation. I still have quite a while left on my contract but I really would much rather be at home to deal with my circumstances. I could cut my losses and simply get on a plane home tomorrow but of course I’d like to come away with the money I have rightfully earned. My understanding is that it’s known the school operates in this manner but the right wheels are greased so that they can behave like this.



of course what they are doing is illegal. go to the labor board. There is no way that they can steal the money you have earned. A lot of these contracts are bullshit and illegal.

You can go to the labor board and report this and they will get in huge trouble.

Now I’m not sure if you should tell them what you want first, and then tell them if they do all the illegal stuff then you will report them. Or go to the labor board first and let the labor board know what is happening.

you are well within the law to get paid your money and well within your rights to leave a job. Be sure to get your money and don’t let them fuck you over because then they will just continue to run illegal contracts on the next and next person.


Thanks for your reply.
If I go the route of the MoL how long is that likely to take? If I quit the job I only have so much money to keep me going before I have to leave, do you know if it would be a very long process to have it resolved?

Do the MoL first then give them two weeks notice after.


An additional question, this job gave me a signing bonus of $5000, it states in the contract if I do not complete a full year of service I will need to return this. Is this enforceable?

they cant take it or "fine"wages / salary.

they can take you to court for a civil suit re contract obligations… but realistically for 5000nt the cost is prohibitive,

most schools have shady practices… for example a very common error for Taiwanese employers is failing to have accurate time cards… this is almost always a guaranteed fine.

if you are not staying, dont intend to return, and are firm about payment of wages owed using the labor department as outlined above (often they will call the employer and try a quick over the phone meditaion to get salary) you *should have no problem.

but fuck it im not a lawyer just a practical realist so take anything with a grain of salt.

TLDR : they have to pay salary owed.
always best to call labor department.

dont sign anything you dont understand … get your full wages first in the hand if they bs you into signing some form first just decline and call MOL

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This isn’t neurolink is it? Sounds familiar

No it’s not.

Update - I told them and was informed I need to let them know a date to pay them back before they will give me the money owed. They insist they want to give me a “receipt” when I pay things back. At this point is it better to just go to the MoL?

You don’t go to the MoL. You go to the Labour Affairs Bureau of your Special City/county.

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Oh, thanks! In my city I can only find the “labour affairs insurance bureau”, would this be the correct one?

Yes. Found at the local city/county hall.


If you tell them you will visit there to ask about the legality of the clause they will probably give up.


Leave this part out. It’s not important concerning getting cash back.


Do you have a copy of your contract?

If yes then take it to the Labour bureau. They will tell you most of the stuff in the contract is illegal.

If no then you go to the Labour bureau and tell them the school you work for is refusing to provide you with a copy of your contract.

The Labour bureau will ring the school and ask them why they won’t provide the contract. The school will fire you and give you your pay in order to claim you no longer work for them so they no longer need to provide a copy of the contract.

They cannot enforce financial penalties for contract termination. It isn’t a phone contract. It’s an employment contract.

If you are part time you are only required to provide 10 working days notice to cease employment. But if they fire you they only have to call you to the office and can fire you on the spot.

Actually I think part time might be two days notice now and full time is 10 days but I’ll still with the 10 days because I don’t want to look it up.

Professionally speaking in this kind of job you usually give a months notice but very few schools act professionally here.

If all else fails there was a death in the family and you’re needed back home to handle the deceased estate matters. You’re unsure how long you’ll be needed for this untimely matter.


Thanks for additional advice. They are saying they are “not witholding/deducting” the fee from our pay but in all actuality they are refusing to give me the pay until I agree to pay the contract break fee and give them a date. I.e they physically won’t hand it over to me without a guarantee of payment first. Would the MoL side with the employer at all when it comes to mediation and force me to pay by a certain date/receive pay only on the same date I pay the fine?

Just go to the Labour affairs bureau. They’ll ring the manager at the school. If the business is threatening to withhold your pay then technically that’s wage theft meaning the Labour affairs bureau can involve the police. One phone call from the Labour affairs bureau and you’ll get called to the office, given your last paycheck, and told to leave.



do not sign anything. they are in big trouble, go to MoL and fuck them up.


So I reached out to 1955 who advised I can file a complaint against the employer in this situation, however they stipulated that because my contract has a clause about paying the contract break penalty that I will be required to pay this.
I’m planning to leave the country in about two weeks’ time, has anyone had experience with timelines for this kind of thing?

My school is being very loose with the words they are using, I highlighted to them that taking pay in advance as a deduction is illegal and they squirmed, saying that they weren’t deducting anything and that they always pay out at the end of the contract but that they can’t confirm when they will pay-out until I confirm when I will pay the contract breaking fine. I could be bull-headed, agree to pay it, try to receive my pay and then bounce but I feel like they will absolutely put up a fight on pay-out day if I don’t first of all hand over the fee.
My fear is that the labor bureau may side with my employer as they are technically right in that they aren’t deducting pay but in essence they are holding it to ransom, it seems like they could legally get out of it; it is written in the contract that they withhold 2-weeks’ pay and pay-out at the end.

The arbitration is free. Might as well.

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