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Breaking an employment contract - NET Teacher

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  1. #1

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    Sep 2018
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    Breaking an employment contract - NET Teacher

    Hi all,

    My partner is currently living in HK with me working for a language centre as a NET teacher. Things are not going as planned and she is looking to get out ASAP but her contract doesn't technically permit it. However there are a number of factors which I believe could give her grounds to leave.Details as follows:

    - Her contract states "25 teaching hours" plus necessary lesson preparation

    - Although her teaching hours never exceed 25 (by much) she is consistently being (verbally) asked to prepare for lessons and and other roles in addition to her own workload. She has refused (in writing) but pressure is still being applied

    - The centre is new and understaffed and the lesson preparation time is significantly longer than other centres of the same franchise (acknowledged in writing by management)

    - In spite of a number of emails written by her expressing concern regarding her ability to keep up with the workload the centre (of which she is the only NET teacher) has continued to expand its offering.


    The termination clause effectively says:

    If the employee terminates the contract before the end of the contract period, the employee will serve a written notice period of 3 months AND pay the company compensation equal to her salary for the remaining contract period (10 months left on the contract in total).

    Also, if she leaves before the 3 month notice period the company reserves the right to request her to find a replacement or pay the amount equal to the lost revenue from classes missed.

    Is there anyone able to offer advice? or anyone who knows of an affordable employment lawyer who can help people in a situation like this?

    Many thanks


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Sounds like you have to worry about the 10 month's salary that your partner legally agreed to pay if they left.

    I cannot believe someone would sign such a ridiculous contract. I mean this is a new low. As for employment contracts and the law, it is legally enforceable, you will 100% lose the court case if the employer chooses to sue you. So unless your partner plans to exit Hong Kong, you are screwed.

    Alternatively you can become a bad employee and play games in hopes to get the employer to fire you. Yet I don't think your partner has the mental strength to play this game.

    Might be best to stick it out or speak with the employer with strong hints that you'll do the bare minimum. Means be a babysitter, slack off, play on mobile, etc.

    Good luck.


  3. #3

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    Doesn't anyone actually read their contracts before signing?

    rs4, MandM!, drumbrake and 1 others like this.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by HK_Katherine
    Doesn't anyone actually read their contracts before signing?
    Think a lot of newbies to HK have no self esteem and no self worth. Get excited at the first job on offer and sign whatever is put in front of them. I mean the employers should just write contracts. After 6 months the employee pays the employer a salary!!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MandM!
    Think a lot of newbies to HK have no self esteem and no self worth. Get excited at the first job on offer and sign whatever is put in front of them. I mean the employers should just write contracts. After 6 months the employee pays the employer a salary!!
    I think a lot have an abundance of both and sign these contracts thinking they just walk away when they want to.

    My hubby showed me his first contract when he got here and I was appalled. Pointed out all the clauses that would come back to bite him if he didn't complete the two-year period (paying back contract term not worked) or if he had even one day off sick (having to pay for a substitute teacher). Luckily he managed to stick it out (didn't mind the harder than contracted work and treated it as a good opportunity to establish a good track record here) but he knew the risks. He came from the US where their contracts are basically 'at will' or 50 pages long.

  6. #6

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    I am not a lawyer so...

    What does the contract say about absence due to illness? I am assuming she is happy to forgo a reference? If she was to play the game by being off sick, or turning up but "being ill" and going home etc, I imagine there is not much they can do other than fire her.

    It sounds like the employer is close to breaking their side of the contract if they are expecting work beyond that contracted, I do know that educational contracts do get around this by having the word "reasonable" in their description of the roles. Your definition of reasonable and the employers could differ greatly. Who is she being asked to prepare lessons for? If it is her own lessons, that does not sound unreasonable; teachers build a bank of teaching materials and experience over time.


  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    I would speak to the Labour Department to see if the clauses in the contract are legal. Not sure if they are or are not, but they would have more information than most of us on here.

    TheBrit likes this.

  8. #8

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    run for it and dont look back


  9. #9
    rs4
    rs4 is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckster007
    run for it and dont look back
    or suck it up

  10. #10

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    Sep 2018
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    @mandm there are a number of reasons why the contract was signed (all seems like poor judgement now but hindsight is 20:20) - a key factor was that the actual requirements of the contract are not large. 25 teaching hours is a small amount for a professional teacher. The fact that the workload has grown to an almost untenable amount is a remarkable feat of mismanagement and lack of respect for employees.

    Thanks for your advice

    juanalias likes this.

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