No Contract? No Deal!

contract104860520final“Your word is your bond” has long been a favorite slogan among recruiting agencies. What this jargon means, however, to you as a recruiting candidate is this: You’re expected to accept a verbal-only offer of employment at a recruiting fair as if it were an actual signed contract & then stick, indefinitely, to your word. With your future up in the air you’re told to wait for an actual contract to materialize. Unfortunately, sometimes it never does.

Finding yourself jobless as a result of a broken recruiting promise, with no recourse, should not be an option. In the opinion of ISR, schools that participate in recruiting fairs without a prepared contract to offer are either too disorganized to work for, hiding something, at odds with their school board, or consider International Educators just another commodity required to ‘outfit’ an International School.

The world functions on formal contracts. Why should an International School be the exception? When financial institutions lend money, all parties guarantee their commitment to the terms of the deal with a signature – No contract? No Deal! The same is true of a job offer in the corporate world as each party affirms their agreement/commitment with signatures on a contract – No contract? No Deal! It follows then that based solely on a mere verbal promise of employment from a school located in a foreign country, NO rational International School recruiter should expect an educator to reject another solid opportunity/contract that may come their way while waiting for a promised contract that may never materialize. Yet international educators are often blackballed after waiting indefinitely for a verbal offer to become a signed contract & finally, in desperation, accepting a contract from a different school, one that is organized & prepared to offer them a real deal – Deal Done!

We don’t deny teachers have verbally agreed to job offers, only to continue looking for a “better” offer. Likewise, schools have made verbal commitments with the best of intentions & later encountered circumstances or a “better” candidate that led them to not honor their word. There can be extenuating circumstances & as such, if a school cannot offer a written contract at a recruiting fair, ISR believes a legally binding Letter of Intent should be issued with a financial penalty clearly stated if either party defaults. Put your money where your mouth is!

Enforcing a Letter of Intent & even a signed contract is difficult when the parties involved are located in different countries. That’s where the recruiting agencies come in. Based on their concern for the well-being of both the teachers & schools they “invite” to recruit through their venues, the agencies should accept responsibility for a pay-out if it becomes necessary due to default by either a teacher or school. As such, recruiters would act as an insurance company of sorts, keeping both schools & educators protected. Might some schools, directors & educators find themselves uninsurable based on past records? How recruiters choose to deal with schools or teachers after covering a default would be up to them & the fine details remain to be worked out. Until that time, our position is – No contract? No Deal!

What’s Your Take on this Topic?

27 Responses to No Contract? No Deal!

  1. You’re damn right. I was all set to go when I got an alert from my Times Ed page to say the job was back in the paper. No advice from the school at all! I had rejected another good offer to take theirs and ended up 5 months no salary out of work. They finally hid behind visa diffs but if you don’t want to go out with yr girlfriend anymore I think you tell the lady first..? It is a big IB accredited school in Riyadh, Saudi. Not KFC, KFS: King Faisal International. Great terms and conditions…if it works out for you.


  2. SHJ says:

    Here’s a thing!

    I was unilaterally dismissed last year 4 months prior to the end of my contract and as such not paid! I took the school to a Chinese court and the arbitration court ruled that the school had broken the law and they were ordered to pay me an amount, not everything they owed me but still it was justice. The school appealed and the case was sent to litigation. The hearing took place on 20th March and the Chinese judge ruled that my contract of employment was not governed under PRC law and was in fact just a deed. My Chinese lawyer is of the belief that the judge and officials were contacted outside of the hearing.

    The U.K. FCO are trying to determine if an actual legal contract of employment, one that is governed by PRC law, is a requirement for the expert certificate once in China. The contract that I signed which was subsequently signed by the Master of the College and witnessed by the Bursar, stated that it was a contract of employment governed under PRC law.

    12 months on I’ve said goodbye to the money it’s now all about justice and proving that they were wrong.


  3. L says:

    I have attended three different hiring fairs and strongly believe the ISS fairs are the best and most reliable. Plus, if you sign a contract to work in an ISS school, you are able to attend ISS fairs free of charge.


  4. bart says:

    i attended two interviews with a school in Malaysia and they called me back offering me the job as Head of Secondary. We arranged to meet two days later to sign the contract. On the day of the arranged meeting I was told the principal was sick and would reschedule. I waited for a few days and then phoned them and asked about the new schedule and was told they would get back to me and there was no response. I called back again a week later and was told the position had been filled. After the job offer I turned down two other offers.

    Maybe I was foolish but I had met the principal and the owner of the school in person twice and I believed them.


    • Mr.WiseGuy says:

      Bart – This is really bad, really bad. I think it is fair play if you could NAME the school here- that is the only way to protect other well meaning teachers from such jokers.

      Would you mind sharing the school’s name here?

      I am sure there must be other gullible teachers currently signing fresh contracts to join that school while others could be trapped in it without an exit strategy in place.

      Again, would you mind sharing the school’ name here?


    • Loe says:

      Yes would you mind to POST and NAME that school?


  5. eslkevin says:

    I have even had written promises from recruiters and schools rescinded.

    One promised that I would be reimbursed for my flight to and interview in London. They then said I could only get the reimbursement money if I signed the contract and actually started work.

    In Kuwait, I had a new contract in hand and notified my then current school that I was not going to teach the next year. However, 3 months after my receiving the offer, the offer was withdrawn because of some politics at the school. Suddenly, I had no job in hand and the school year was coming to an end.


  6. Anonymous says:

    ISR, it’s a good idea but I don’t think it will work unless the recruitment fair organisers are made responsible! The recruitment occurred on their soil therefore they MUST bear the responsibility. Including even after the teacher is in situ. Issues such as late salaries, unfair deductions and worse, lack of medical care even when the contract says the employee has free full medical care! Once the onus goes back to the fair organisers and agencies, bearing in mind that they get paid, then only then do I believe they will take more care and the responsibility for these unfair treatment of trained and qualified teachers!


  7. Anonymous says:

    Skype interviews are entirely satisfactory. I’ve only ever interviewed this way. There is no need to fly somewhere to meet the director in person. On another note, teachers often renege on their contracts too leaving the poor school without a teacher. This often happens when the teacher suddenly gets a better offer.


  8. Anonymous says:

    I am so tired of everyone telling teachers that their word is their bond. No where in this modern world is someone’s word their bond any more. I think that if a school wants to employ a teacher they should bring the contracts to the job fairs and sign them at the time the offer is being made. Teachers, SEARCH, and ISS need to make this mandatory because otherwise it is entirely unfair as a teacher will stop interviewing being told their word is their bond, Some schools will change their mind and not hire when they said they would, etc. Why are teachers so nice? Teachers are the only profession that accepts whatever crap others dish out, for example the idea of national certification in the USA when we all did what we were told to do to be certified at the state level and spent tons of money to do it. But teachers are mostly nice gentle people without business sense. Teachers are also forced to accept that references entered on SEARCH or ISS will not be accessible by the teachers themselves which allows corrupt unethical principals/heads of school unlimited ability to damage careers of honest teachers. It is time for us teachers to unite and send a clear message that we demand a contract be produced at the time of the offer. However the reality is that teachers are so happy to have an offer in this difficult market that we don’t wish to offend and try to trust but in the end it can backfire on us. Teaching internationally is like the old Wild West– in many cases there are no protections for workers, unethical and ignorant heads or school/principals have unchecked authority, and contracts are unenforceable or subject to sudden change to the employer’s extreme benefit. I have loved every moment of my career overseas but after 15 years and seeing much more bad than good I am glad to be home where at least we have enforceable contracts and some protections for workers. If you can find schools that other people you know work for and can vouch for that is far better than doing the fair circuit.


    • Anonymous says:

      You are absolutely right in everything you’ve mentioned! I believe teachers are too nice and we have no business sense indeed! Somehow I feel we should have legal support to take our cases to international law courts where I believe it’s a level playing field. If we have a one-stop-legal firm we take our matters to, then these schools will think twice before dishing out ‘crap’!


  9. Anonymous says:

    International teaching contracts are worth nothing, and international teachers have zero recourse when the schools decide to change their mind. Contract applies until the director feels like it doesn’t. However, it will be very rigidly adhered to if the teacher has a change of mind. Along come intimidation, threats of blacklisting. Why would any director follow the ISR suggested rules, when there is no one holding them to it in the first place. People accept verbal offers because they are afraid to say “I need a contract right now” Imagine how that would set the tone for a future employer. We are not corporate – there is no equity in the transaction. We (teachers) are underlings and will continue to be treated as such.


    • E says:

      I agree 100%. You take a chance when you teach internationally and have very few rights or recourse. It is a roll of the dice and you can win or lose.


    • Anon says:

      Totally agree – many contracts are not worth the paper they are written on. Suppose you arrive at a new posting to find housing is unacceptable, ownership is corrupt and management weak and ineffective and your workload is much heavier than you were led to believe. Seriously, you’d be crazy to stay. School owners are quick to fire on a whim and loyalty doesn’t come into it. International teachers have to look out for themselves and put their own interests first. Schools are a business like anything else.


  10. Makes me sick! says:

    I was signed up with Search Associates and was offered a position over the phone in Morocco. It never materialized. I told my Search Associate Marie Bogat and her response was, “I’m surprised.” It appears that the schools can get away with this with the recruitment organizations, however if we as teachers back out of a verbal agreement, we are banned from the organizations. What a load of crap!


    • Anonymous says:

      Search Associates always says “I’m surprised.” My associate said when I told them I was leaving a school during a contract, “Oh but it was such a good school.” Well yes it was a good school 20 years ago when the country was safe but no longer. The reality is Search makes it’s money when a placement is made and then they zip up their pants and walk away except to stop and smile nicely at the recruiters whom they pander to. It is unethical in my mind to host a fair with 400 candidates and very few jobs. Oh no wait, the candidate pool for those few jobs is so much smaller because those same jobs will be offered at all the ISS and SEARCH fairs for the year. So teachers are competing against 4000 teachers for a job. Hmm do teachers really want to spend the $5000 it takes to go to a job fair with those odds? I had been talking to a school for months and they said they would interview me at the fair. Well on the way to the fair the head of school made a stop over to interview and hire a candidate that did not even go to the fair. How unethical that he did not inform me his position was filled. I hope he rots somewhere really bad for that because it cost me a lot of money to go to the fair. Had another school ask me if I would fly, at my own cost, to interview with their head in a country near where i taught but I could not afford to do it and the fair. They hired someone else. So I also think the schools are really unfair in their expectations of candidates. SEARCH puts the screws on candidates because we are too nice, we teachers need to unite and stand up and tell SEARCH what we want but it will never happen, will it? By the way, everyone should read ISR because there is much truth there. I wish I had listened to ISR for my previous 2 schools as it would have saved me heartache but instead I went to the fair and was taken in by slick suckers. That’s my own fault.


    • Anonymous says:

      No it’s not your fault! One needs to follow the steps required for what one needs or wants. So if by travelling to a fair is the requirement then you did no wrong. I, however, don’t believe in recruitment fairs and I refuse to pay to any agency. My agency does not charge for registration or anything. I also use tes and cv library and thank God I get jobs! Having said that though if schools can be sued and backlisted internationally, they will think carefully before they make unfair decisions.


  11. E says:

    Contracts and labor laws mean nothing in the Middle East. Be wary.


  12. Wendy Soane says:

    The British School Bahrain broke my two year contract after 13 months to employ a local hire part time teacher. I sued them and they were found guilty after two years. They were ordered to pay less than three months of remaining eleven months. My lawyer appealing to court of cassation and still waiting to be heard after another two years. Where is the justice?! Perhaps it is because the school owner is one of the top five important business men in Bahrain? Perhaps he is considered to be above the law?!


  13. LEE says:

    Some of the schools do that but unfortunately after waiting for the contract, the principal will tell you that they find a new applicant that is suited to the position…


  14. Anonymous says:

    ISR, its a good idea.


  15. Good Idea ISR says:

    I attended an ISS fair and was offered a verbal contract. I waited a couple of weeks for the written contract and then called the school. The director told me they were still in the process of having the board approve the contract. Two more weeks past and I called again. I was put on hold for ten minutes on long distance to Honduras. When the guy finally had the courtesy to come to the phone he told me the position had been filled. This was before ISR or I would have spread the word about this school and its lovely director.

    No one was interested in my story. I had no recourse. The bottom line is that no teacher should spend thousands to fly to and attend a fair and then be treated as I was. I like your idea about the recruiting companies insuring the credibility of verbal and written contracts. I’ll bet they’re reading this stuff and saying — “not in my lifetime.” I would love to see one of them respond to this article and your idea.


    • D says:

      Count your blessings. If this was the same school I worked at for one semeseter, you are lucky to have lost your contract. Corruption in Honduras is rampant and has permeated society so much that parents, students, and admin in these countries don’t know how to operate without it.


  16. L says:

    As a very experienced international teacher, in both good and bad schools, throughout the world, I think you you need to be aware that in many cases, contracts mean nothing. Further, even though many countries have labor laws, they are just for show and especially in the Middle East, Wasta rules all.


  17. Brian Meegan says:

    Given that the schools pay the recruiting companies, and the fact that there are always ever-more teachers looking for positions, I think it is likely the recruiting companies will do what the schools want. And no more.


  18. Otieno says:

    I would agree 100%. In this ‘modern’ world which is full of ‘cards being under the table’, the only fair deal for either party seems to be written and signed contract is a DEAL. Any other ‘agreements’ are gentleman’s agreement which neither party is obliged to honor.

    Of course I am also aware that a number of schools and a number of teachers have on various occasions gone against these signed contracts -but these seem to be limited to the few bad apples out there in the field.


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