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For more than a two decades China Labor laws remained antiquated and subjective. There were double standards for local Chinese teachers and expat foreign teachers. In short, expat teachers in China were at the mercy of their employers and hopefully they would be benevolent and not compel them to work too many unpaid over-time hours. It was not good.


Things changed drastically over the past two years when China labor laws were amended to give all employees in China the same rights and protections - including us expats. Hoooray!  Unfortunately this sword cuts both ways, and there is no minimum wage for foreigners above that of local Chinese - however, most all of us teachers in China negotiate salaries that are no less than 10,000 a month plus a free apartment (See pay rate charts at But here are the other rights you now have in China as an employee that only the most honest China job recruiters and schools will ever even mention to you...


* You have the right to receive an original hard copy of your contract that is signed and chopped (red sealed) at the time you sign an employee agreement.

* You have the right to receive a written job description prior to signing your contract. It is up to YOU to make sure that job description is specific, in English, and not so vague that your hours, working days, work location, pay rate, holidays, bonuses, visa costs, air fare reimbursement, release letters, etc are clearly spelled out in no uncertain terms.

* You cannot be compelled nor forced to do anything not specified in your job description (which you should insist becomes and exhibit to your contract and also gets signed and chopped. This stops you from being used as a marketing monkey in shopping malls on the street handing out flyers).

* Your probationary period cannot exceed one month for each year of your employment contract. So if you are asked to sign a one year contract, your probation period should not exceed one month. If however, you sign a contract that specifies a 3 or 6 month probationary period, you are implicitly waiving your right on this issue.

* If you hold an FEC (Foreign Experts Certificate) you cannot be compelled to unpaid overtime hours without your consent.This one protection alone is worth about 5,000 - 10,000 rmb every month to some expat teachers in China.

* You have the right to receive both an invitation letter and release letter free of charge (These are both legal requirements and administrative duties of the employer).

* You have a right to a Z visa if employed in China (Again, this is a legal duty of the employers and of anyone tells you that you only get a Z visa after you complete your probationary period they are surely a scam operation to be avoided).

These are just some of your rights as an employee in China. To learn all of them, we suggest you attend one of our seminars held on this subject twice a year in Beijing and Shanghai. If you wish to be notified of the next one, please send us an email to as seating is usually limited to the venues that are donated for these activities.  BTW... If you do not have a Z visa in your passport you have no legal rights nor protections since you are working as an illegal alien and subject to arrest and deportation.



If your employee rights are being violated you can do three things to resolve the situation as follows:


1.  Make a written complaint to the Principal and FAO of your school that is both signed and dated, and make a few copies for yourself. Ask for a written reply to avoid any "misunderstandings" and thank them in advance for fixing the problem as you anticipate they will. It is only fair that you give them a chance to do the right thing.


2.  If you do not receive and email reply, you can then report the situation to SAFEA ( and to us at and both parties will inquire on your behalf. This is usually enough to resolve the matter.


3.  If however the situation does not improve within 30 days of making your written complaint, your next step is found at this link as a measure of last resort:


4. To help warn other teachers about the school that is exploiting you, we will send the school principal a warning letter, and if two other teachers have the same problems the school will be blacklisted for one year, enough time for them to improve their abusive behavior. 


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