International school contracts

It’s contract signing season!

In my 20+ year career in international education, I have signed five contracts. Reflecting on each of these contracts, I have learned valuable lessons, namely: do not sign a one-year contract; if you like the school and the school likes you, you will negotiate for at least a two-year initial contract, maybe a three-year contract, and a contract should be longer than two pages; the good contracts I have signed have been around 10 pages; these contracts were filled with detail to protect both the school and employee.

When you receive a contract, I strongly encourage you to 1.) read and closely review it, and 2.) suggest changes.

I have friends who have returned a signed contract on the day of receipt. They quickly scanned the contract and signed. It’s easy to just focus on the basics such as job title and salary. I remember doing this with one of my contracts; three years into the contract I regretted my hasty contract review.

These are a few of the items you should look for in your contract:

1.) A clear job title/scope of responsibilities.

2.) The length of your contract and the contract renewal process.

3.) Your salary.

4.) Detailed information about each benefit.

5.) Dispute resolution procedure.

Is there anything else you recommend looking for in a contract?

During the contract review process, there is no harm in involving an attorney. The attorney may be a friend whom you send the contract to and she/he offers feedback. The attorney does not need to be in labor law. Most attorneys are skilled at looking at contracts; they have an eye for detail and for interpreting verbiage.

Once you have reviewed the contract and have sought feedback, you can in a professional manner, suggest changes. Be flexible; your future employer may only agree to one or two of the changes. This is okay. When offering suggestions, remain humble and communicate with a collaborative approach. Work together. Do not work against each other.

If you would like someone to look over a future contract, let me know. An attorney and I review international school contracts at a reasonable fee. I highly encourage educators who are entering the international school market to take advantage of this service. You can contact me on LinkedIn