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Advice needed ELS-Bell Szczecin (is it dodgy?)


James Rowe  
25 Aug 2009 /  #1
I got offered a teaching position at ELS-Bell Szczecin. ~2400 PLN/ month net. Just want to check everything seems ok. The school facilities are great and all but something seems dodgy to me:

- they didn't check any of my qualifications
- Ludka Kotarska referred me to the Szczecin school and she seems to have got quite a bad name on ESL forums

In an email I asked the following questions and got the reply in italics:

Q Why is it that the contract doesn't highlight my gross pay aswell?
Because the tax is the employer's responsibility and is pad by ELS-Bell. 20% flat rate for foreigners.

How can I prove that I would be paying tax? This is very important to me as I am permanately moving to Poland with my Polish fiancee and I just want to be legally working and living here like she was in the UK (it was easy for her to simply fill in the workers registration scheme and get a NI number).

Q Finally will the school help or give guidance to the teacher in
obtaining residency and (to my knowledge there is temporary residency
for 3 months (zameldowanie) and then a 5 year residency).
It wil be processed by ELS-Bell.

Q The above applies to getting a NIP and PESEL number also.
Yes.

hmm...

I would welcome any advice.

Thanks.
Harry  
25 Aug 2009 /  #2
Because the tax is the employer's responsibility and is pad by ELS-Bell. 20% flat rate for foreigners.

That's a new one! There is no flat tax for foreigners. Full stop. End of story.

Personally I'd be asking to have a contract with the school as a one-person company.
OP James Rowe  
25 Aug 2009 /  #3
"Personally I'd be asking to have a contract with the school as a one-person company."

I dont understand what you mean.

Is there a way I can prove that I would be paying tax and legally living and working here.
Harry  
25 Aug 2009 /  #4
I dont understand what you mean.

You can fairly easily set up a one-person company in Poland and then you are responsible for your own taxes, you just invoice the school.

Is there a way I can prove that I would be paying tax and legally living and working here.

Yes. Get a letter from the tax office stating that you have no debt to them.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,690  
25 Aug 2009 /  #5
Q Why is it that the contract doesn't highlight my gross pay aswell?
Because the tax is the employer's responsibility and is pad by ELS-Bell. 20% flat rate for foreigners.

Hmm. Does it explicitly state that the salary is net?

~2400 PLN/ month net.

How many hours? Any more than 70 hours a month for that salary and you're being ripped off. I'd also make sure that any additional time (meetings, etc) is adequately compensated.

How can I prove that I would be paying tax?

Easiest way is to ask the school for proof that the tax has been paid and then take it to the tax office and ask if the tax has indeed been paid.

It wil be processed by ELS-Bell.

I'd be interested to know how they'll process it when it's the responsibility of the individual.

To be honest, I'd be inclined to steer well clear - usually if something sounds like a scam, then it probably is.
OP James Rowe  
25 Aug 2009 /  #6
I have received a terms and conditions of Teaching and it states the net value of the contract will be 21,760 PLN net (the contract is for 9 months and it states this will be paid in monthly installments of 2417 PLN net).

My teaching hours are 24 per week. On top of this on occassions I may be required to work Saturdays at an overtime of 32 PLN per hour. It is stated that teaching hours must not exceed 30 in a week.

I feel awkward having the school process my registration and application for NIP number.

It's just a shame a Polish friend of my fiancee studied there and thought it was a great school. She also has a Polish and English friend who work there as teachers.

thank you very much for your help
Harry  
25 Aug 2009 /  #7
My teaching hours are 24 per week. On top of this on occassions I may be required to work Saturdays at an overtime of 32 PLN per hour. It is stated that teaching hours must not exceed 30 in a week.

You need to check as to whether this is 24 clock hours (i.e. 24 times 60 minutes) or 24 class 'hours' (i.e. 24 times 45 minutes).
OP James Rowe  
25 Aug 2009 /  #8
24 class hours
delphiandomine 83 | 17,690  
25 Aug 2009 /  #9
My teaching hours are 24 per week.

Okay, let's work this out..

2417PLN for 96 hours = 25.17zl an hour net. That's really awful money - granted, Szczecin is no Warsaw/Krakow or even Wroclaw, but Szczecin's not such a small place. I know of Polish teachers getting that in smalltown Wielkopolska!

I assume this is for 'proper' teaching that requires preparation, too? If so, it's absolutely dreadful - as a new teacher, you'll find it harder as you won't be able to wing it, so you could easily find yourself working for less than 20PLN/net an hour. And for that, what's the point when you could teach a 'method' and get paid money for turning up 5/10 minutes before and reading a book?

On top of this on occassions I may be required to work Saturdays at an overtime of 32 PLN per hour. It is stated that teaching hours must not exceed 30 in a week.

32PLN an hour is a bit more realistic (if it's net!), but still on the low side if you've got to prepare lessons on top. If it's a 'method' school, then 32PLN/net isn't so bad - but I don't think Bell is?

I feel awkward having the school process my registration and application for NIP number.

That's not so much a big deal, as it takes any hassle out of it for you. As an EU citizen, there's little they can do to you - certainly any threats to revoke your registration can be laughed at.

Steer clear is my advice - the money is literally mickey mouse money, and while I don't believe the claims that you can make 50zl/net easily in Poland, it shouldn't be difficult to pick up something that'll pay you 35zl/net in Szczecin.

If I remeber rightly, aren't Bell schools notorious for paying absolutely ridiculous wages?
Harry  
25 Aug 2009 /  #10
If I remeber rightly, aren't Bell schools notorious for paying absolutely ridiculous wages?

That's them.

When I was up in Gdansk 14 years ago they were paying £100 a week. Then you could just about get by on their salary. Now they are paying £120 a week but the cost of living has gone up by rather more than 20% over 14 years and the prices they charge per lesson have certainly gone up by a lot more than 20% over 14 years!!!
nauczyciel  
25 Aug 2009 /  #11
hahaha Bell Szczecin... what a joke. I'll leave it at that.

there is no 20% tax. There are 2 different scales you can use.

you can get a 3 month zameldowanie, provided that you have a contract for your residence in Szczecin, willingness of the owner of the flat you rent to go to Urzad Miasta to show them the legal right of ownership of the flat.

You will never go from a 3 month zamel to a 5 year temporary residence.

I just got my fourth zamel, completed the application for temporary residence, got my decision today, and I have a WHOLE YEAR!!! woohoo!! I've invested over 100,000pln in this country in the last 8 months, and thats all. 1 year :/

Gee....32PLN for "overtime Saturday work?" I was getting at least that teaching childrens classes for 30 minutes. I know some teachers making 35PLN in Szczecin under the table.

I'd be getting all monetary values on paper!!

If I were you, I'd also be getting a personal accountant.

Sounds way too fishy.
Rafał/Szczecin  
26 Aug 2009 /  #12
You don`t need to care about main salary here. In short time you will have a goup of private students. Usually it is 50-70 pln per hour.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,690  
26 Aug 2009 /  #13
You will never go from a 3 month zamel to a 5 year temporary residence.

I just got my fourth zamel, completed the application for temporary residence, got my decision today, and I have a WHOLE YEAR!!! woohoo!! I've invested over 100,000pln in this country in the last 8 months, and thats all. 1 year :/

Yes you will, as he's EU and the 5 year temporary residence is what's given as the norm to EU citizens after the first 3 months zameldowanie.

To be fair, 100K in PLN isn't really that much - it's only 20,000GBP.
Trevek 26 | 1,702  
26 Aug 2009 /  #14
2417PLN for 96 hours = 25.17zl an hour net. That's really awful money - granted, Szczecin is no Warsaw/Krakow or even Wroclaw, but Szczecin's not such a small place. I know of Polish teachers getting that in smalltown Wielkopolska!

I know people who get double that in Olsztyn!
OP James Rowe  
26 Aug 2009 /  #15
I don't have a contract for a flat I rent because I'm staying at the moment free of charge in the house of a member of my fiancee's family, Of course when I get work I will offer them money for my keep but it isn't exactly rent as they have already said to be they don't want my money and are just happy for me to be there as my family did the same for my fiancee when she stayed in the UK for 2 years. There are some good people in the world :)
nauczyciel  
26 Aug 2009 /  #16
To be fair, 100K in PLN isn't really that much - it's only 20,000GBP.

Firstly, I'm not British so I don't care how many GBP that is.

have you got 100,000PLN or 20,000GBP to spend without using credit?

and its more like 21,500GBP as of today.
exlaerer  
26 Aug 2009 /  #17
I worked in Bell Szczecin for a year and I have to say, with regard to the legal side of things, I think you are right. Bell is a school that talks all about quality but quality from management is lacking. With respect to the taxation situation, I think they have found a loop hole around the law...having asked for NIP numerous teachers have been fobbed off with a story..I have never seen a document showing how much tax I pay...and come to think of it I am kind of worried....With regard to the residency it is the responsibility of the school to organise your residence in the flat of the person you are staying with, but I have never needed to sign or submit anything as a zameldowania...so again i think they are dodging the issue... With regard to the pay, you are probably on the lowest pay structure - Grade 1 as an inexperienced teacher...Prices have been going up, including Bells prices for courses, but it seems teachers salarieds have not been...Theres something wrong there..If I were you I'd set your self up as a private company and invoice Bell at the end of eacvh month..At least you are sure that you will pay taxes and any other benefits you are entitles to...The problem with the contract is, that it is Umowa odzjiawu ( or something like that) which guarantees absolutely no entitlement for ZUS...so if you are settling here I wd seriously consider getting out of this contract...If you can do and numerous teachers have done this, is to have your own private students and charge them 50 - 100 zl an hour..You will be making more money that way that you will ever at Bell
OP James Rowe  
26 Aug 2009 /  #18
Ok and how would I set myself up as a private company and invoive Bell at the end of each month?

Been offered another job to teach Biology (IB diploma level) at Szczecin International School. My indication is that they are more of a serious institution and will do everything to the letter of the law. I have a Masters in Chemistry but no formal teaching qualification and studied Biology only to A-level (although I understand a lot still).

The hours they offer are limited and I doubt the salary will be great being mainstream education. I met them briefly today and will discuss more when I meet them again tomorrow. They did however say that after the first year there will be a space for me to go full time (possibly more towards Chemistry also).
b8hoven  
26 Aug 2009 /  #19
I am a native speaker and I teach in Warsaw and make double what you have said here, BUT, during the summer periods work is very thin and hard to come by. This is why they have said the contract is only for 9 months, it will finish in June or July, when you really need the money. As a native speaker you could earn a lot more than what they are offering you (in Warsaw anyway). That 20% tax is definitely not true. You get taxed something like 16% on the first 1000zl then 18% the next, or something like that anyway. There is no such thing as a flat rate.

I think legally the contract MUST state what you pay is in gross, and show a breakdown of the tax payments each month. I would get a NIP and PESEL beforehand, or get your own business NIP (like most people have been saying here). Good Luck!
exlaerer  
26 Aug 2009 /  #20
You wd have to go to the town hall and get an application form to establish a company..There should be some information pack to accompany this which will tell you how to fill it in and what to do ...Id seriously advise you to take your fiancee with you as it makes things easier..Polish bureaucracy is not the best in the world..

With regards your latest job offer I wd seriously consider this as a better move
Harry  
26 Aug 2009 /  #21
Been offered another job to teach Biology (IB diploma level) at Szczecin International School. My indication is that they are more of a serious institution and will do everything to the letter of the law. I have a Masters in Chemistry but no formal teaching qualification and studied Biology only to A-level (although I understand a lot still).

I'd go with them. They are far far more professional and given that they charge more than 2000zl a month per student, they should pay a lot better too.
exlaerer  
26 Aug 2009 /  #22
I agree with Harry...and the time you have as a part-time teacher you can do those private students
Trevek 26 | 1,702  
26 Aug 2009 /  #23
Just a point, IF you have a private company you have to pay your own ZUS (unless the nice firm who hire you pay it too). I've worked at places with GREAT wages but it was because they weren't paying my ZUS for me.

Might be worth considering, if the wages are low, whether the firm pays ZUS for you.
nauczyciel  
26 Aug 2009 /  #24
this thread on Daves is strikingly similar to this.

on Daves u will find all the info u need to create a sole trader business.

i've got Polish friends that opened up companies in the UK as it was much easier and in a diff tax bracket. Why not start a business in your home country?

paiz.gov.pl/index/?id=5d151d1059a6281335a10732fc49620e

i'd be asking Bell if they are paying your ZUS for u. I pay about 800PLN monthly for it.

a thought > You might get into some hot water at a later date when working and not paying into the system.
Trevek 26 | 1,702  
26 Aug 2009 /  #25
i'd be asking Bell if they are paying your ZUS for u. I pay about 800PLN monthly for it.

Yeah, I think around 800 is the flat rate these days. Thing is, if the school DO pay it for you, then it kind of adds 800 zl to your wages. If you are working 20 hours a week (let's say 80 hours a month) it's about 10zl an hour. So your 35 becomes 45.

Obviously, if you're working more hours it is worth less and the rate becomes worse.

21,500GBP

That's quite a bit more than the average working wage in UK.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,690  
27 Aug 2009 /  #26
It's not as simple as that - ZUS for employees is different than for self employed. In theory, the employers contribution is 20% and the individual's contribution is 17% - but there appears to be all sorts of scams to get around this.

And for the first two years of self employment, ZUS is around 330zl a month (or even less if you have a contract somewhere which pays ZUS for you!) - so the 800zl figure is a bit inaccurate in this respect.

And let's not forget that ZUS can be written off against tax.[/quote]
That's quite a bit more than the average working wage in UK.

Actually, the average UK wage is just under 25K as of last April. Might have gone down a little bit as a result of the 'crisis', but won't be less than 21.5K.

i've got Polish friends that opened up companies in the UK as it was much easier and in a diff tax bracket.

Dodgy thing to do if the Polish tax man catches up with you, especially if you're resident in Poland for more than 185 days at a time and thus classed as Polish resident. Fair enough, there's no way for them to check based on your passport - but it would be very easy for them to ask you to produce bank statements to find out what you've been doing over the last while.

have you got 100,000PLN or 20,000GBP to spend without using credit?

It's really not that much money in the grand scheme of things, even in Poland. One million PLN is where it might be seen seriously - but I'm not suprised that they only gave you a year's residence permit if you only invested 100,000PLN into the country. Another way of looking at it is that it's 25K EUR - which really isn't that much money.

With regard to the residency it is the responsibility of the school to organise your residence in the flat of the person you are staying with

No it's not. It is the responsibility of the individual to sort out a valid zameldowanie, not the school or indeed anyone else. I'd actually be interested to know how a school is supposed to sort it out for you if you're staying somewhere entirely unrelated to the school?

having asked for NIP numerous teachers have been fobbed off with a story

And people accept this? I'd be straight to the taxman to complain that they're withholding taxes and not paying them!
lowfunk99 10 | 397  
27 Aug 2009 /  #27
I think it's on the low side. If they provided a flat that makes it almost acceptable. I would ask for more.
Trevek 26 | 1,702  
27 Aug 2009 /  #28
Actually, the average UK wage is just under 25K as of last April.

Really? jesus, I know hardly anyone earning that much. What a peasant I am!
exlaerer  
27 Aug 2009 /  #29
i don't understand why there is this need to compare what the salary is from Polish Zlotych to British Pounds and Euros...The cost of living in Poland is so different than in Britain, so such comparisons are false...2400 net is not bad for a native speaker who has no experience of teaching, nor a teaching certificate...Indeed, most language schools wont allow people in their institutions unless they have a CELTA.
b8hoven  
27 Aug 2009 /  #30
delphiandomine
It is the responsibility of the individual to sort out a valid zameldowanie, not the school or indeed anyone else. I'd actually be interested to know how a school is supposed to sort it out for you if you're staying somewhere entirely unrelated to the school?

Exactly, the school will have to contact the person you are living with, and ask them to go to the office to register you. There is no way they can do it otherwise. Plus the zameldowanie office will need your passport.

The way residency works is; first you get a "karta pobytu" for 1 year (after a lot of messing around), it takes about 3 months just to get that, then you have to go back before the card expires and REAPPLY! So there goes another 3 months. Once they approve that they will give it to you for two years. After that I am not completely sure as I have only been here for three years, I think it may be for 3 or 5 years. But it involves so much messing around and waiting all day at a stupid office where nobody speaks English. I hate Polish civic offices!

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