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Having gone through the trouble of gaining a work permit and visa, some teachers are confronted with employers reneging on their obligations. In addition, in order to work legally in Thailand, there are some teachers who find themselves out of sorts with their employer due to non payment of salary. When I worked in Bangkok, nobody paid much attention to their contract unless it was beneficial to themselves.


Teachers would come and go as they pleased, regardless of their contract, which would be broken regularly by all and sundry.

The amount of contact hours was of the most interest to me as this would tell me if I was to be paid any overtime for the extra lessons I would invariably teach. This did not cover the extra hours I had to teach because my colleagues were “too ill” to come to school. I lost count of the amount of Mondays when I covered for my co-workers without pay.

Holidays were also something that concerned me as I am not too averse to partaking in that particular activity. I was never too worried about sick leave as I tended not to be as sick as my fellow workers.

What made me reflect on contracts at this particular time is that I received two emails which I found quite disturbing. Both involve the treatment of qualified teachers who are legally working in Thailand and both seem on the surface to be unfair.

The first case involves a teacher who is contracted to twelve hours a week and is paid for an extra ten for an international programme. The problem here is that the teacher is only teaching ten hours of regular classes and so the authorities have decided to reduce the international payment by two hours.

This might not seem much to some of you who are reading this; however, it means the loss of 10,000 baht and I know on my meagre Rajabhat salary 10,000 baht would go a long way.

The second concerns a teacher who notified the employer that they were going to leave after February to work as a volunteer, teaching refugees. The disappointment for this teacher was that no holiday pay would be paid as they didn’t have to and didn’t have the money anyway.

Now you could say that both are being treated by the letter of the law; however, surely there is a time to reward employees who are working hard and whose references have them as being exemplary, by adopting the spirit of the law?

I am informed that there are many similar stories on the internet; although I find it strange that I should get two emails concerning contracts on the same day. Could it be that the credit crunch is affecting the cash flow of our education establishments causing them to cut costs?

I have a similar problem with an extra weekly contact hour worked last semester. I was told verbally that we would not be paid. If this is the case, why do we have contracts at all?

Nobody seems too bothered about what they contain; they just seem to do what they want to do. I believe it is time to have a look at our contractual obligations in order to make a true covenant between employee and employer, ensuring that there is equity for everyone.


Some contracts are not worth the paper they are written on

Some contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on.
(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 10th February 2009)

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