desiccated musings


Contracts. Good deals and Bad. How to negotiate.





The contract will set out where the tutor will work  i.e. city and country. It will probably specify that sometimes the tutor may need to work in other countries if he or she travels with you.


The nature of the work will be specified. The contract shall state that the work will involve sit down lessons, general supervision, games etc…. If there are any non-standard duties such as cooking meals then this should be stated.


The working hours should be started. Is it a 40 hour week or a 50 hour week? You might say that the work hours are 8 am to 7 pm or whatever. You could put in a clause ‘’the family may from time to time need to vary these hours slightly.’’ What are the working days? You might only given them one day off a week and not two. The day off is not always Saturday and Sunday.


Accommodation should be specified. Does this person get their own room? Is it in a staff house, the family’s or a hotel? Is the cost of this entirely covered? That is standard.


The salary should be stated. If you opt to pay in a certain currency then payment must always be in that currency unless the tutor agrees otherwise.


The contract might offer healthcare or not. The tutor should not try to interpret silence on this issue as working to their advantage. Tutors from the UK are used to healthcare being free of charge so it will be a rude awakening for them to discover this is not so abroad.


When is the first day of work?


Are there any paid holidays? If so how many per year? Will the tutor sometimes be allowed additional unpaid leave or not?


What are the grounds for termination of contract? Usually you give a verbal warning for the first example of underperformance. There should be a written warning for a second offence and then a final written warning for a third offence. That is followed by dismissal. In the case of gross misconduct the person can be got rid of immediately. Some contracts entitle the family to sack the person immediately for any reason and without even having to state a reason. How much notice does someone get if sacked? Is it no notice at all or is it a fortnight? Does this person get a week’s pay when dismissed or nothing? Does he or she get a flight back in that case?


Who covers the cost of the flight? Is it usually the family and they buy a return ticket. However, what if you fly this person out without them having been on trial? It is possible that you take one look at the person and decide you do not want her or him. It could be that she or he dislikes the situation and resigns within days. You could stipulate that he or she must pay for the ticket and it shall be reimbursed if he or she completes one month or three months or whatever period of times you choose. This ensures you are not out of pocket for someone who turns out to be a disaster. The moral of the story is – have a trial. If you bring someone out on trial even for a day it is much less likely that you will employ someone terrible.


It is very tricky to get someone a work visa for some countries such as Russia, Azerbaijan or China in such situations. In that case the person usually gets a 3 month business visa. This means the person goes home to get it renewed after 3 months. The tutor appreciates the week’s break it takes to get the visa renewed. Is the entire visa cost carried by the family? This is usually so. Say that in the contract.


Transport to and from work needs to be clarified. Is the tutor responsible for getting to an from work or is there a driver?


Is the tutor provided with a phone? In some countries only a person with a residency visa can purchase one and your tutor might be on a business visa. Who pays the bill? Offering to pay an unlimited bill is inadvisable. One Turkish family complained that their New Zealand nanny left and they were landed with a hefty bill for all her calls to her family in New Zealand.


Any tax liability is the responsibility of the tutor. He or she is a contractor rather than an employee. he or she can easily avoid tax by being paid offshore. Stress this to the tutor at interview. Then he or she will realise that they will be about 30% better off by avoiding tax.


What are things they must not do? If they are not allowed to drink alcohol on your premises – even in their bedroom – then say this. If they live in a staff house and are not permitted to bring their girlfriend/boyfriend to stay then point this out. If a pet gerbil is not allowed then say so.


Cancellation – if work is cancelled does the person get paid for days unworked?


How much sick leave do they get? After how many days sick leave do they have to provide a doctor’s note?


Is there compassionate leave in the case of a family bereavement?


What expenses are available for buying educational materials?


Do they have to provide a written weekly report?


This contract shall be governed by the law of which country? If the contract is to be fulfilled in Japan then is it governed by Japanese law? Many contracts which take place in different countries are governed by English law.


In fact people almost never take the family to court. The contract is there for peace of mind and so there are no misunderstandings.


If the person chooses to resign how much written notice do they need? You will probably need at least two weeks to find a replacement. So is it a 2 week notice or a 4 week notice of what?


Is there a probationary period during which someone can be sacked without notice or a reason given?


There may be a secret annex to contract only between the agency and the family. The tutor does not get to see the secret annex. That will state the commission. What are the agencies duties? Will the agency keep you informed of situations and guarantee that they have checked references etc….? Can the agency guarantee that any degree certificates are genuine?  Is there a penalty clause whereby if you find they have been negligent they must pay compensation? If the tutor falls ill and you need emergency cover they will send a replacement within a week? Will they translate reports for no extra charge?






The minimum salary is GBP 3 000 per month. You will be hard pressed to find a decent tutor from any Western country who will work for less.

Salaries range up to GBP 5 000 per month.


What is the difference between your GBP 3 000 a month and your GBP 5 000 a month tutor? The most expensive tutors will have a First Class degree from Oxford or Cambridge or else have graduated summa cum laude from an Ivy League college. He or she will speak a second language fluently. He or she will have a Master’s degree or even a PhD. He or she will be accomplished in sports. There might be musical or theatrical attainments. This man or woman may well have published a book. He or she will have glowing references from other clients. This individual will provide and excellent role model for your children. This person will be presentable, punctual, self-assured and handle every situation deftly. You will have peace of mind when leaving your children in the capable hands of this admirable person.


Remember on top of the salary you will be paying about 20% to the agencies. Some agencies try to charge 40%. That is daylight robbery.






Agencies will have their standard contract. You can just fill in the blanks – name, place of work. contract start date etc….


However, you can parley with the agency. See if you can pay a lower salary and or lower commission. Can you negotiate a longer notice period etc….


Negotiate hard but not for too long. Tell them that you are negotiating with a number of rival organisations. That will put the frighteners on them. They want to seal the deal. They do not want to lose a lucrative contract to a competitor. You should give them to understand that you are very well known and influential. If they cut you a square deal then you will tell everyone what a splendid outfit they are. But of this agency rips you off then you will tell everyone that this agency is dreadful.


If you parley for too long the tutor you want will get fed up and take another job. Make an offer by email. Wait for their reply next day. You might accept it or make a counter offer. This should not go one for more than three days. Otherwise the agency will assume you are a time waster. There is even industrial espionage! Agencies often pretend to be parents and call and email sniffing around for market sensitive information. They want to know the terms and conditions offered by their rivals. If you have had a tutor out on trial an agency knows you are genuine.


The contract will be signed, scanned and sent by both sides. Once signed do not try to change it.

One family sent a contract to a tutor. He signed and returned it. The next day the family thought the better of it. They had not signed it. They then remade the contract to remove health insurance. This was one of the major benefits. The tutor then refused to work for these people who had altered the contract to his disadvantage. He assumed they would always do this.






Salary GBP 3 000 per month to tutor daughters in Moscow aged 9, 11 and 14.


Tutor attended the best girls’ school in the United Kingdom – Wycombe Abbey. Her father is an admiral and mother is a surgeon. She plays the cello and piano. She has a Double Starred First from Cambridge in Maths. She is 25 and has no children. She has a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education –  which is the qualification to be a teacher) also from Cambridge. She taught at Benenden (another illustrious girls’ school) where she was a deputy housemistress. She never smokes or drinks. She has a Blue in tennis (i.e. played tennis for Cambridge). She is native British but fluent in Russian. Her boyfriend is a British diplomat in Moscow so she will like it there and be emotionally stable.


She accepts sharing a room with a nanny. She will have one day off a week – to be chosen by the family. She will have 20 days of holiday per year – all unpaid. These will be selected by the family. She has to pay for her flights and visa. There is no medical insurance. This is a two year contract. The family can dismiss her at any time and there is no severance pay. If she wishes to resign she must give one month’s notice.


This deal is very advantageous to the family. The trouble is a tutor like this can get a better deal elsewhere so she might leave after a while.




About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

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