What If I Don’t Get Paid?

k472xciyqiuk11.jpgOne of potential EFL teachers’ fears is not getting paid – is this concern realistic?

My opinion is that yes, it happens, but not to the extent that people worry about it. Even if all of your papers are in order, it can be hard to know what to do, where to go, etc. in a foreign country. But generally, schools are motivated to keep their teachers relatively happy, or at least to keep them working there. I’ve also personally found that people just tend to be good rather than…evil. As frustrating as some experiences can be, the vast majority of people you encounter just want to go about their lives as usual and are not interested in tricking foreigners out of a months’ wages.

I’d say the top reasons for not getting paid are:

  • Your school doesn’t have the money. Yet. As cynical as I can be…this actually happens. It’s frustrating but they’ll pay you when they get it.
  • You owe your school money for your work visa or rent and haven’t taught enough to come out ahead. So technically you do get paid, but you don’t see the money.
  • You don’t have a work visa yet and they “can’t” pay you. Often there is some way, or the possibility of a “loan” without actually getting paid, but if you don’t have legal permission to work, it will be very hard to fight it if you don’t get paid.
  • The school really isn’t going to pay you. This is pretty rare, but if it’s going to happen, logic says the chances increase for your last month’s pay, especially if you need to leave the country before pay day.
  • Overall, I’d say the chance of not getting paid money you are owed is very small, and there is no way to remove that chance completely. But keeping a professional, friendly relationship with your employer and other teachers can only help. Again, schools (usually) want to keep their teachers, not give them reason to quit.