First of all, congratulations on being offered a job! Hopefully it is a job at a school that you really want. Either way, DO NOT accept a job until you’ve seen the contract- that’s perfectly normal here and you can’t say yes to a 2-year commitment without knowing all the nitty gritty details.
When you get offered the job (usually a few days later via email, I’d imagine), write something like, “I’m delighted to have been offered the job working with your school and I look forward to receiving the contract shortly.” You haven’t officially accepted the job but you’re showing your interest by asking for the contract. Once you get the contract, read it carefully and see if it is an ideal teaching package.
A good international teaching package should include:
- a competitive salary.
- furnished accommodation or a housing allowance, which varies depending on your status, i.e. single, married, or with dependents (children). If you have a housing allowance, you may find my blog post about finding accommodation in the Middle East.
- medical insurance (check if it is just for you or for your spouse and/or children).
- visa costs (check if it is just for you or for your spouse and/or children).
- an annual flight allowance, including your flights at the beginning and end of your contract (again check if it is just for you or for your spouse and/or children). I have heard of some schools only offering one return flight (at the beginning and end of your contract) and not each year (which is the norm here), so check your contract carefully!
- free school places for up to two dependents or a tuition allowance if your dependents cannot attend the school where you work (e.g. in the case of Dubai’s Ministry of Education schools and other government/public schools that are attended only by local or other Arabic-speaking pupils). Schools fees are sky high in the Middle East so you need this help from your school employer. Otherwise, it really wouldn’t be worth your while coming out here in terms of financial gain.
- by law, you are entitled to a bonus upon completion of contract, which works out at one month’s basic salary for each year of continuous service.
- shipping and/or baggage allowance.
- check how long the probationary period is. In this time, your contract can be terminated if the school feels you are not meeting their expectations, so it is important to be aware of the timeframe.
- note how much notice you must give your employer if you decide to resign.
- in the UAE, if you break your contract, you most likely will need to pay a fine/penalties and you can’t work in the UAE for 6 months afterwards. You might need to pay back your flights, accommodation allowance, settling-in allowance, etc. Read your contract very carefully and see what the implications are. This article from the National newspaper gives a great insight into what the legal ramifications are in the UAE.
- if you have found a teaching job abroad through an agency, ask the agency if they have a penalty should you break your contract. I’ve heard of one case where the teacher had to also pay a penalty to the teaching agency too because they lost commission from the school due to the teacher’s early exit.
- read this article by Roger Keen. It offers more great advice about what to do before signing your contract in the UAE.
If you get offered more than one job, definitely request the contracts from each one, so you can compare job offers. You need to think about what is best for you and your situation so have all the necessary information to make an informed decision.
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