A new labor regulation aims to curb under-the-table hiring deals between foreign English teachers and school owners through non-paid teaching demonstrations.
According to a regulation passed by the Counsel of Labor Affairs last month, if teaching demonstrations are crucial to an employer's decision in hiring a foreign English teacher, then the demonstration must to be done without the presence of students. The presence of students in the class is a legal violation, council officials said.
In a statement released by the Taipei City Government's bureau of labor affairs last week, through a recent clampdown on teaching violations at private English-language schools, many foreigners without proper work permits were caught performing in-class teaching demonstrations as a pre-hiring process.
"This demo-teaching excuse used by school owners had been a rather grey area of labor regulations. Therefore, this new regulatory explanation draws a clear definition of what a teaching-demo should be like," a bureau staff member said yesterday.
Typically, foreigners seeking English teaching jobs come into the country on a tourist visa and begin looking for employment. Many schools require potential teachers to hold teaching demonstrations in order for employers to assess an applicant's performance, but this process is undocumented and therefore illegal.
In Taipei City, there are approximately 1,900 documented foreign English teachers working at private language schools. It is uncertain how many undocumented teachers there are in the city.
Foreign teachers often take additional jobs that are above and beyond the school which has provided them with documentation. Such undocumented teaching positions include teaching kindergarten-aged children, and at evening schools known as bushibans. According to child welfare laws, it is illegal for kindergartens and daycare centers to hire foreigners.
"Many employers actually own several different language schools and have them registered under different names, and have the foreign teachers hop around and teach at different places," a bureau official said.
On the record, an employer may hire a teacher to teach at a certain school, but off the record, the employer has foreign teachers assigned to take care of children in a daycare center.
By doing so, both employers and teachers are violating the law, including the Supplementary and Continuing Education Law (補習及進修教育法) and Employment Service Law (就業服務法).
Most often, foreign teachers are not aware of the related laws until being taken to police stations and forced to give statements relating to legal violations.
Employers violating labor laws by hiring foreign English teachers without work permits may face fines of up to NT$750,000, while English teachers may face deportation.