Getting-out-of-a-contract question

This might belong in the legal section, mods, feel free to move it.

I’m looking for a little advice, hoping someone here knows their Taiwanese contract law and might have some idea of what I can do.

So, after a couple years in Kaohsiung, I moved to Taipei in Aug. Looked around for a job, and after prospects grew increasingly dim, finally signed at place that looked decent. Mostly signed there because I talked to the manager a fair bit, and she seemed to really have her head on straight, well organized and all that.

Three weeks later, it’s becoming very apparent that the school is horribly organized, and the owner (not the manager) is really only in it for the money, doesn’t speak much English, isn’t willing to buy new materials to replace the horribly inappropriate ones we’re forced to use now. And apparently she pays full in cash, with no word on what’s to be done about taxes.
And then the other day the manager (who I like) told me she’s leaving in three weeks, partly because she doesn’t enjoy working there and she’s too busy. She also warned me that teachers get fired a lot there, for things like kids not liking them, and that my hours would probably be cut dramatically during the winter and summer vacation months. Despite my contract saying I get 14/week. Basically, from the boss who appears wholly indifferent to what goes on in class to the poor level of organization and the manager who’s got her head on right leaving… I’m not sure I’d be happy working there. I could handle it I suppose, but I’m looking into my options.

So anyway : I had my ARC/work permit through my old job in kaohsiung, and i signed the contract at this place on sept. 11. This current place is still putting together my application for the work visa and arc, ie, my health check is done, but I haven’t handed it in to them, and they need a couple other documents from me I haven’t handed in yet.

My contract says if I leave mid-semester I have to pay NT$20k, but I’m not sure if that’s all that enforceable given that they aren’t sponsoring my ARC and all. Do I have the ability to just tell her “hey, this isn’t working out here for me, before you apply for that work permit, let’s just cancel the contract and move on”? And if she demands the 20k, am I obliged to pay it? Is it legal for them to pay me fully in cash and expect me to take care of my own taxes? I’ve never heard of that before…

Basically, if it’s a huge hassle to get out of the contract, I may as well just continue on and give up expectations of actually teaching anything in class. The students know I have no institutional support behind me, so they’re little animals in class, and there’s not much I can do. I actually do enjoy being in a classroom and teaching, but this ain’t teaching.

Sorry it’s so long… any ideas folks?

Run away.

Alas, I have a lease and a girlfriend with a full time job. Otherwise, my friend who’s been telling me all about the good life in Shenzen would have some company.

No, stay in Taiwan, but just find another job if you can. If you don’t feel good now, you’ll feel a lot worse in six months.

Well, yeah, that’s what I’m worried about. But I’m also worried about the legalities of “just running away”, which is why I’m on here. I theoretically could just talk to my boss in an honest way about my concerns, but she doesn’t speak much English at all (ironic, for an English buxiban owner eh? maybe not a surprise to some people, but it was for me). And my Chinese ain’t at that level. My manager (who I like and who is leaving) seems to really like me, she wants to help me quit so I’d be free to work her other school, but she doesn’t say much about how she could help me, just that I shouldn’t worry and I need to wait a little bit. I just don’t know if I should wait until I’m fully under the control of this place.

Injecktilo: If you’ve left your old job, they will have cancelled your ARC by now (or should have). This means that you’re on borrowed time, so to speak. As such, you need to get a new ARC through someone pretty quickly or you’re hear illegally (which could be remedied by a visa run).

If your ARC has not been processed by the new job, then I believe (don’t take anything as gospel here) you can do a runner without any ramifications. Ordinarily, I would advise not doing that, but to put in (and see through) some notice. Normally, if you do a runner it can jeopardise your chances of getting a new ARC because normally there’s paperwork both of you fill in (yes, you too, though you don’t have to do anything more than say you’re leaving in writing – you don’t have to agree to anything else they try to slip in there). This then gets submitted to the government so they can cancel your ARC. Make sure you get a copy of this document. If you do a runner, then the government wil know, which will make you unreliable in their eyes (hence why it could jeopardise getting any future ARC).

As to the contract breaking fine, that’s actually illegal. – That’s the website for the Council of Labor Affairs. More of them in a second. – That’s the Labor Standards Act. More on that shortly also. – That’s a good article about this very topic. Basically, follow what’s in that. Especially note the following:

[quote]Article 26 of the Labor Standards Act states that:

An employer shall not make any advance deduction of wages as punitive damages or indemnity.[/quote]

Okay, so almost two years ago now, I quite my job at Hess. They wanted me to pay a contract breaking fee and kept a significant portion of my last pay. I said I didn’t have to and that they couldn’t and that I was talking to the CLA about the whole matter. The CLA rang them up and told them to give it back to me. That’s where it got interesting. After giving it back to me, they said that I then had to pay it to them. I said I wanted them to pay me for all the unpaid overtime I’d done.

Over the course of the next four or five months, I dragged the whole thing out with meetings, ignored some of their e-mails and telephone calls, responded very briefly to others (usually to say I would see them at the CLA meeting), ignored their written legal threats, etc. Over this time, there were at least six people at Hess involved in my case, including at least one woman (who came to a meeting) whom I believe was a lawyer because she presented some sort of licence to the lady at the CLA. They threatened to take me to court and so on, and I told them to bring it on and that I would counter-sue for all the unpaid overtime. During this time, several of my friends had quit and had been bullied into coughing up the money to Hess.

Basically, I treated the whole thing like an insurgency war. My goal was to tie up as many of their resources and bleed them in a small, but steady stream to the point where it wasn’t worth winning, even if they would have eventually won the money from me. I was prepared to blow the whole thing up into a media fiasco if necessary, and the ensuing damage control they would have gone into would have been enormous. That’s against a major organisation that can afford to make a point and take a financial hit to do so (though which can’t take a hit to its reputation). Yet they eventually gave up. No small buxiban is going to be able to fight that fight.

My advice to you then (and you can take this with a grain of salt) is to be a hard bastard and win the staring contest, which shouldn’t take much. The more pressing issue for you, I think, is going to be your residency status. Be a dick. It’s like in Team America: dicks fuck pussies, but they also fuck assholes.

That’s some helpful stuff, thanks. I called my old employer today, and yeah, they’d just cancelled my ARC/or started the paperwork to transfer it this week already. So I guess I’m out of luck there. I don’t really want to pull a runner at all, but I guess I’ll see about doing this the legal way. Good to know they can’t charge such damages, I’ll look into those links you posted.

I really don’t want this to turn into some big thing, this is a tiny buxiban here and I don’t know that they’d put up a huge fight if it came to that… I just hope it doesn’t come to that. But if the fine for leaving early is legal, then I’ll make sure I have that clear before I go talk to them about leaving.

Thanks for the tips…

I’ve heard elsewhere that such fines aren’t legal (even if they pay you all your pay and then want you to pay them the fine), but bear in mind that in this country it’s not even if things are legal, but whether they’re enforceable. If you roll over easily, they’ll get the 20,000NT. If you string them along and drag it out a bit, they’ll almost likely roll over.

Actually the tax thing seems to be the only problem at this job. There are many jobs that cut hours over the summer. Pretty much the contract hours only apply to the actual semesters at many jobs. Also, at this point a lot of schools are not buying supplies at all. You might want to talk to other teachers at a school before signing a new contract, but no supplies and cut hours over summer are part of many jobs and you won’t be told about it when you sign the contract.

Alright, fair enough. Is that tax business legal though? ie, if they pay me cash and then expect me to pay my own taxes at the end of the year? I’ve never heard of it before…

[quote=“Injektilo”]Alright, fair enough. Is that tax business legal though? ie, if they pay me cash and then expect me to pay my own taxes at the end of the year? I’ve never heard of it before…[/quote]It happens.