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Poland teaching contract withdrawn at last minute, thoughts?


S.Wolf
23 Sep 2010 #1
Good evening, sorry to vent possibly irrelevant spleen here but the administration process at Dave's EFL Cafe is inefficient to say the least, and I must post somewhere. Basically, I was offered an 9 month contract with a company in Opole Voivodeship from the end of this month to the end of June 2011. Everything was fine, preparations were underway, I hadn't heard anything at all from the company suggesting that all was not well at their end. Therefore - considering I was supposed to be travelling to Katowice this evening - I was pretty surprised (to say the least) when I sent a final email just to confirm pick-up times and so forth yesterday afternoon, that I received a reply basically stating that the company had lost a contractor and therefore would no longer require my teaching services.

From a minor amount of research, I gathered that someone else at the same school had received virtually the same message roughly 10 days ago, thus leaving me wondering why they hadn't informed me earlier of their economic frailty. I have considered it being a scam, but essentially what it is is thoughtless manipulation. It seems they hire(d) twice as many teachers as is necessary, at no point informing them that their job is not as secure as they might think it is. My question is whether this is common practice in Poland? From my searches it seemed that the only similar case was the one I mentioned earlier and believe was a victim of the same school. What would you advise be done about it? Is there grounds for legal action? Naturally, I have been unable to receive a refund on my plane ticket/hotel costs, but there is a clause in the contract (which I believe is quite common) stating that the company reserves the right to cancel employment whenever they feel within the first month.

Can anyone suggest what my next move should be (other than looking for a replacement job)? Also, any tips on the employment process generally? It never even occurred to me that they would so nonchalantly terminate my contract before it had even started.... Feel quite naive, but surely this is an anomaly in the tefl market (although I have heard bad things about Russian tefl jobs, I wouldn't have thought of it happening within the EU states)? I would like to avoid getting overly paranoid about these things in the future if possible.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
23 Sep 2010 #2
Well, the first thing you should do is name and shame them - Dave's ESL is notorious for moderating out bad comments about schools (Regent School is one particular name that always censors what's said about them on there), but there's no such restriction here.

If you send your contract to office@lindenia, I can give you my opinion - but sadly, I suspect that you've been given such a contract that allows them to break it at their leisure. Teaching contracts in Poland tend to be heavily one-sided in favour of the employer.

My question is whether this is common practice in Poland?

No, it's not normal practice. There are many examples of schools being greedy or not paying what's owed, but this sort of thing is very rare as far as I know.

What can be done? It depends on the contract. But - unfortunately - there's not likely that much can be done. It's worth sending the contract to me, just in case - I might be able to advise you on how you can put some pressure on them to refund the flight costs at least.

Also, any tips on the employment process generally?

Don't look for jobs from overseas is my recommendation when it comes to Poland - very few schools bother to look abroad, and the ones that do are usually doing it for a reason. There are the occasional good schools that hire from abroad, but many of the bad ones do it simply because they can't get anyone in-country.

It sounds very odd that they've lost a contractor at the start of the year - it sounds like someone has tried to hire lots of teachers in the hope that they'd need them - of course, now that they've found out that they don't need them, they've let you down at the very last second.

It's sad that you've had this happen to you - I'd like to know the school so I can tell people to avoid them in future. It could be that they've simply agreed a far-too-generous package with you that they can't afford, as well.
OP S.Wolf
23 Sep 2010 #3
Thanks for the quick response Delphi.

If you send your contract to office@lindenia, I can give you my opinion

Will do so. Although I have some irrational aversion to quoting the name directly, I'll just say they're based in Kedzierzyn-Kozle (there can't be many schools there). Since they are based in KK, and I'm aware KK is not a particularly nice place, it's not the end of the world for me by a long way. The frustration is more the manner in which they told me, and the lateness of it. Having to find a replacement job when the academic year has started, or is about to, is not ideal obviously.

I might be able to advise you on how you can put some pressure on them to refund the flight costs at least.

That would be very helpful, I emailed them this morning (i.e. yesterday) and am yet to receive any kind of reply.

Don't look for jobs from overseas is my recommendation when it comes to Poland

Understandable, unfortunately in my case it's not really financially sensible to move over first and then look for a job. Or I might just be being too cautious, how likely is it that I could get a job very quickly after arriving over there? And how easy is it to find accomodation? The combination of the accomodation and work into one package is generally not advised (or so my research suggests), yet as a first time teacher (albeit with a CELTA) it feels the safest way to go.

now that they've found out that they don't need them, they've let you down at the very last second.

Agreed, it would have been appreciated if they'd have told me this when they told the other guy I came across who voiced a similar complaint over on Dave's EFL (even the wording is the same - as a guest I can't link to outside sites, but it's topic number 84114 on the forums).

It could be that they've simply agreed a far-too-generous package with you that they can't afford, as well.

Not even a generous package sadly. Although accomodation was included, my research suggests 1800zl/m (after tax) is still not a great deal.

Once again, thanks for your help, I'll send the contract over pronto.
Zed - | 195
23 Sep 2010 #4
1800 after tax? God gracious... most poles in UK earn twice if not thrice being totally menial, so to speak :-)
OP S.Wolf
23 Sep 2010 #5
Yep, that's admittedly true. The main advantage for me was that there were fewer potentially variable outgoings (i.e. rent/bills) and thus far easier for me to know where I was financially. This is my first away-from-home job, the only times I've ever lived alone were at university and five weeks in Budapest (which is basically more like a long holiday), so the simpler the calculations, the better (even if I lose a small percentage by paying for this service).

I sent you the contract delphi, thanks.

Oh by the way, I am certainly not expecting to live comfortably in Poland and my lifestyle isn't such that I would generally spend that much anyway. Any financial naivety I might have had before has (I hope) been knocked out of me by the British educational system and Budapest.
mark007 - | 58
23 Sep 2010 #6
Hej czesc! As a native speaker working in Lublin I have not found any problems regarding contracts with schools or colleges. The main problem could be that a school expects a certain number of students to take up a course at its establishment, and when they fail to make the numbers, have to cancel some contracts. Normally the last person in is the first one out the door, this could have been the case with you. keep trying, but don't put all your eggs in one basket, look to gain work from a couple of places so if the **** hits the fan at one job you have a back-up to keep you in pierogi! Powodzenia Marecki
OP S.Wolf
23 Sep 2010 #7
Czesc Marecki, how did you find that job? Did you move over there and then find the job (if so, is it quite easy to do?) or did you apply from the job from abroad? I should be in the pierogi right now, it's only really hit me last night (24 hours after the email) the extent of the setback. I've got 10 applications going in, but I'm getting more and more tempted just to go over to Poland asap.

Btw, although it might appear otherwise from what I wrote, but I am aware of what a pierogi is and that it's not some kind of Polish jacuzzi.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
23 Sep 2010 #8
but I'm getting more and more tempted just to go over to Poland asap.

If you can afford to come over for two weeks and just hit the streets, you might get lucky. I'd recommend Wroclaw or Warsaw - there are many, many schools in both cities, yet there isn't an overwhelming amount of native "teachers" like in Krakow driving down prices. I think if you're determined and stubborn enough, you should be definitely able to put together a full time package of hours from different schools in either of those two cities.

(by the way - you should register on here, we could do with more sensible teachers who know the difference between "your" and "you're"!)
SidWolf 2 | 34
23 Sep 2010 #9
Dziekuje, registered. What would the average hourly rate be if I were to do things that way? I assume I'd get a slightly better rate than taking one of these advertised-online jobs? I converted 900 zl as insurance for my first few weeks assuming this job was going to go ahead, do you think this would be enough to keep me going if I were to come over to Poland and look?
Harry
23 Sep 2010 #10
Not in Warsaw. If you come to Warsaw you'll need one month's rent (at least 1500zl) plus the same as deposit and very probably half as much again as agent's fees; plus money for a few nights in Nathan's Villa hostel (60zl for a dorm bed, 160zl for a room) while you look for a flat. You could luck into a full-time position immediately (especially right now as classes are about to start) but more probably it's going to be a case of picking up hours here and there until you have as many hours as you need/want/can handle. So you need to be able to not get paid until the start of November (which means you'll probably need to have another month's rent to hand too).

With all that said, you almost certainly will find work in Warsaw right now.


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