Yet Another Look At Under The Table Jobs

mary-under-table.jpgInquiring minds want to know about under the table jobs – so here are some common assumptions about under the table jobs and my take on them.

“Taxes aren’t paid.”
I think this depends on the situation. It seems to be a known fact that taxes are in fact often paid on the money earned by people working without the correct authorization in the US – and I think if it is an organized business paying, such as a school, abroad – it is often the same; the deductions made for pension, etc. just don’t go to the individual in question but to someone else. In the informal situation of, say, housecleaning or babysitting in the case of undocumented work in the US or one-to-one private lessons for an English teacher, it may be true that taxes are not paid.

“Under the table jobs are a good way to make cash over a short period.”

I would vote no. I can’t speak about all fields, but as far as teaching goes – it takes time to build up contacts to teach a good number of one to one students, and they cancel a lot in general – whether you teach them legally through your school or on a self-employed permit or otherwise. Sure, schools vary, but most schools want teachers for a year term – you may be able to find exceptions, or schools that want to employ people without permits for a year, but this is rare. It would be incredibly stupid to advertise under the table jobs as such and for this reason seeking out those jobs is not straightforward. While people may find themselves in such situations and make the decision to stay, pro-actively seeking out under the table work in a field where it is generally possible to go through the proper channels to get authorization is not really advisable.

“You probably won’t get caught.”
Again, it depends. In countries where you’re likely to get caught, schools tend to know this and not do it, as they face sanctions as well for employing people illegally. Getting caught though is not the only possible ill affect – you may be short-changed by your employer (who can you turn to if they decide not to pay you?) or you may need to explain yourself and lack of a residence or work permit to future employers when you’d perhaps rather not.

For even more on under the table jobs, see some past TEFL Logue posts on the topic.