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No matter what rumors or horror stories you may have heard in the past, you DO in fact now have the same employee rights and labor board protections as a manager of Huawei, ICBC, or Sinopec thanks to labor law amendments made over the past two years. Granted, prior to 2012 you could nothing but complain or quit when forced to stand on the street handing out flyers, or forced to work unpaid overtimes. Thankfully, those days are now gone. Here are some of the rights you are now guaranteed if you are holding an Foreign Experts Certificate (FEC):
* You have the right to receive an original hard copy of your contract that is signed and chopped (red sealed) at the time you sign an employee agreement.
* You have the right to receive a written job description prior to signing your contract. It is up to YOU to make sure that job description is specific, in English, and not so vague that your hours, working days, work location, pay rate, holidays, bonuses, visa costs, air fare reimbursement, release letters, etc are clearly spelled out in no uncertain terms.
* You cannot be compelled nor forced to do anything not specified in your job description (which you should insist becomes and exhibit to your contract and also gets signed and chopped. This stops you from being used as a marketing monkey in shopping malls on the street handing out flyers).
* Your probationary period cannot exceed one month for each year of your employment contract. So if you are asked to sign a one year contract, your probation period should not exceed one month. If however, you sign a contract that specifies a 3 or 6 month probationary period, you are implicitly waiving your right on this issue.
* If you hold an FEC (Foreign Experts Certificate) you cannot be compelled to work unpaid overtime hours without your consent. This one protection alone is worth about 5,000 – 10,000 rmb every month to some expat teachers in China
* You have the right to receive both an invitation letter and release letter free of charge (These are both legal requirements and administrative duties of the employer)
* You have a right to a Z visa if employed in China (Again, this is a legal duty of the employers and if anyone tells you that you only get a Z visa after you complete your probationary period they are surely a scam operation to be avoided).
Now the bad news… If you are not holding a Z visa in your passport, you are not entitled to any of these rights, and are subject to arrest and deportation as an “illegal alien”. If you are not aware of these rights and others, some unethical recruiters may try to persuade of the following lies…
A) “You will only be paid 50% of your salary for your 90 day probationary period”
B) “You don’t need a Z visa until after you complete your probationary period”
C) “If you don’t do well on your evaluation, your probationary period will be extended to 6 months at reduced pay until you pass your evaluation.”
D) “Since you don’t have a TEFL certificate nor 2 years previous teaching experience, you will work 6 months as a teacher intern at 50% salary, and then 3 months at 75% of full salary, and your last 3 months of your first year you will collect full pay”.
E) Because you are not a native English speaker, you have to work a 6 month probationary period at reduced pay.
We recently did a quick poll of 500 expat teachers in China and found that 70% of them were totally unaware of the above employee rights and have all been working unpaid overtime for months, and 32% for more than a year. So if you add up all the skimmed money from the unpaid overtime, the monthly $300 hair cut, the bogus 50% internship and/or probation period money, the employee is being robbed of about 40% of his/her total pay – maybe even 50% if they throw in the lie about the “20% China automatic income tax deduction”!!! When dealing with China job recruiters, silence in China is indeed golden! If you don’t ask there are many things they will not tell you. Now you can understand why the CFTU gets bashed and trashed so much by recruiters pretending to be fellow teachers recruiting on ESL & TEFL message boards or expat forums, after being outed as one of the above skimmers. And the sad part is… they are not all Chinese! See the below links:
Foreign teachers in China are the lowest paid expats in the country, yet they are the most targeted by the fraudsters and ID thieves. Teachers are supposed to be teaching lessons to others. But in China they are the ones learning them – the hard way. If you are one of them, we suggest you visit http://chinascamwatch.org and make yourself scam-proof in a hurry.
If you want a free copy of China Labor Laws in English, Please send an email request to ChinaLaws@ChinaForeignTeachersUnion.org