I’m sure you’ve heard this all before but I’m stressed as hell so bear with me…
Familiar story – against our better judgement my partner and I signed a shitty contract with a shitty school.
There’s no curriculum, no resources, no windows, layers of dust and dirt, I’ve been asked to teach in their attached kindergarten a few times, the manager’s teaching support is limited to ‘sing a song and play games’, and neither she nor the two Taiwanese teachers want to be there (one is leaving after this fall semester), etc. To the school’s credit, our manager is flexible, helpful to the extent of her limited abilities, and the environment is by no means abusive, just depressing as hell. We’ve been here about 8 months, my partner’s miserable, and we need to leave urgently for the sake of our mental health.
BUT our contract includes a whopping 45,000TWD/ person penalty 'deducted from outstanding pay’ if we terminate without 3 months notice or agreement from the school. Thanks to low pay and hours, this is more than our monthly paycheck . My understanding is, at the very least, withholding money from paychecks is illegal. When we brought this up before signing the contract, they said this penalty reflected the cost to hire a recruiter and wouldn’t be a problem if we helped find replacements, a provision which we insisted be written into our contract. They also added a provision noting that any disagreements would be settled in court…Clearly, we should never have signed that contract, whoops!
We gave our manager notice a month and a half ago (verbally…, while at the same time sending her a google doc link with a recruitment ad draft and links to 8 different websites for posting the ad). Since, I’ve done a few rounds of FB job board posts from which they received applications. They weren’t interested in most of them (not young and white enough) and were very, very slow to interview the couple of qualified people I encouraged them to. To my knowledge, they never made use of the job posting sites (including Tealit despite my offer to help). I learned today, thanks to a couple laughably inaccurate fb job board posts, that they hired a recruiter after all.
Not that it matters much, but we signed a year contract under an understanding with the school that we only planned to stay 6 months. The school was pretty desperate for people and agreed. At three months in, we thought we could make it a year. Turns out we were wrong.
We have plane tickets out of the country Oct. 15. Our housing is also in the school.
In an ideal world:
We leave the school in the next couple of weeks, they give us our final pay in full and help facilitate our tax refund (we don’t have pay stubs, just the deductions written on the envelope we receive our $$$ in), get an ARC extension, travel a little (we’ve only left the area we’re in once for a visa run months back), fly out Oct. 15.
Even if they give us the full paycheck, they take our tax refund hostage instead. And/or they don’t supply us with documents for our ARC extension, putting us at risk of an overstay.
Even if we stayed at the school into October, I’m worried they’ll still withhold pay or collect from our tax refund. Also I’m not sure my partner has another 1.5 months here left in her. Quitting suddenly on payday (Sep 10) seems unfair to the kids (and Taiwanese teachers), doesn’t resolve the tax question, and I imagine complicates the ARC extension process. And again, we currently live in an apartment in the school.
Things that would be helpful to know:
How do we go about collecting our tax refund without our employers assistance? Do we need to take paper pay stubs or just show up at the tax office with our ARC/ 健保卡 and flight confirmation a week before we leave the country? Will we have trouble receiving our refund without a Taiwan bank account?
Hurdles applying for an ARC extension after a messy employer break-up?
How does the timeline for potential legal troubles (either us filing a complaint for withheld wages or our employer suing us) impact our departure timeline and vice versa?
Any other sage advice?
Yes, I will talk with my employer directly, but I’d like to go into that conversation knowing the law and what my options are. If you made it through all that, thank you!