Congratulations! You’ve landed your dream international teaching post. After all that hard work perfecting your CV, tackling the nerve-racking interviews and gaining glowing references, you’re ready to sign the contract to seal the deal.
But in your excitement, the prospect of sitting down and reading through the 10-or-so-page contract stipulating the expectations from your future employer may not seem that exciting. You're sure it’ll just be fine, right?
Well, now more than ever, it is so important to understand what you are agreeing to when signing an international contract – so here are some of the things you might want to look out for before signing on that dotted line to ensure there are no nasty surprises in store.
1. Hours of work and holidays
If you’re a night owl and you’re signing a contract for a job that requires you to be on school grounds at 7am, will this be a challenge for you?
Equally, does your school require you to remain on school property until a specified time in the afternoon and not allow you to complete your preparation anywhere else? Work hours and holidays are often different around the world so be sure to check if your new school calendar is suitable too.
2. Medical insurance
In the time of a pandemic, it is more important than ever to understand the medical coverage you and your family have under your new contract.
Many international schools offer high-quality international medical coverage through well-known providers, but it is worth checking to make sure your coverage is adequate, just in case.
The last thing you want is to be trying to learn a foreign language while in hospital, so make sure it’s clear what you’re offered and what it covers – and what it does not.
3. Flight allowance
Although the draw of teaching internationally is often exploring your new home and surrounding countries, many teachers often want to travel further afield during those regular teacher holidays or perhaps back to their home country to catch up with family and friends.
In this case, a flight allowance comes in very useful.
Some international schools provide a predefined allowance in cash, while other schools book the flight on your behalf – in which case. think carefully about where your home airport is.
It may be that Birmingham or Newcastle airports, say, are more suitable and transfer friendly for visiting family. Check the small print on all this so you know what you’re entitled to.
Any contract should clearly state your salary and whether this is before or after tax.
Many countries in Asia have progressive tax systems, which is something you may want to consider if one of your priorities of moving overseas is to save money.
Also, moving overseas often means forfeiting the national pension scheme in your home country, so it is crucial that you consider the saving power your salary affords you back in your home country where you might likely retire.
This includes considering the costs associated with transferring money, how often you might do this as well as a nod to the exchange rate.
5. Termination of contract
The last thing you probably want to think about as you prepare for a new adventure overseas is potentially having to leave before your contract is up.
However, it is important to consider the legal obligations in any contract, no matter how promising the opportunity.
Many international contracts are usually for two years and have an initial three- to six-month probation period.
Unlike in the UK, where you are able to give a term's notice to leave, in many international schools, the penalties of ending a contract early can be extremely costly.
Amy French is an international learning support teacher at St Christopher’s School, Bahrain. She can be followed on Instagram @adventureswithmissamy