Holidays: paid monthly vs paid at the end of the contract

Today I am going to write about a sensitive subject which I’ve wanted to write about for months. I will try to introduce the whys as best as I can, but I’m not a writer…so forgive me if finally I don’t manage to express the problem and solutions corretly. However, I think it is an article which should be written to help clarify some issues.

The sensitive question would be: Can you pay holidays not taken monthly and, if not, how can this affect your rate?

Let me take some steps back in time to the origins of this problem. As in so many other aspects of our business, the root of the problem (IMO) is the hourly rate, which I have already explained was a partial solution for a specific type of teacher: part time teachers who arrived here for the sun and fun and taught some hours to pay their expenses. But they have become the de facto rate for all teachers now. Including, surprisingly enough, full time professional teachers.

These rates have the following characteristics:

  • Alegal“, they are way over the convenio. Which at the moment of writing this article is around 11€ per hour…but we should not be thinking hourly if we are not self employed. No other profession does in Spain.
  • They make teachers only think about their teaching hours, as if they were self employed (but without all the risks) . Not about the rest of benefits a normal contract has and are included in the rate.
  • Convenio rates are lower because they take into consideration, among other things, holidays.

One of the reasons these rates were over the convenio were because they included a concept which was stated in writing in most contracts:


NB: this is copied from a contract I had from years ago as reference.

Let me emphasise that this is a clause on contracts which were set by the legal advisors of academies and signed by both academies and teachers. And they were standard. Of course, in both cases, the parties implied trust that the “asesorias” know about the details of labour law.  It must have been correct at some time.

Some academies also include in this rate, 4€ per hour more than what the convenio states, class preparation.

In the good old times, when everyone in the business earned a lot of money, nobody worried about these issues. With the decline in TEFL teaching, recessions, Covid etc, salaries have gone down (immensely). And teachers have fortunately started to educated themselves about their rights. Some academy owners have tried to help in this process (others haven’t).

One of their rights, under a contract, is to receive, at the end of their contract, the payment of untaken holidays (2 days per month). It is what we call the “finiquito” (this and any unpaid classes taught since the payment of the last salary).

However, most didn’t receive money in their finiquito because it was included in their hourly rate, due to the previously mentioned clause.

I have been asking around a lot, meeting with experts in labour law and listening to what teachers say when they meet with their unions. It seems a fact that this clause is not legal any more.

Holidays cannot be replaced by money if it is not at the end of the contract. You cannot pay untaken holidays monthly.

Again I must emphasise that “asesorias” keep telling us, academy owners, that this is legal and can be done. But I am 99% sure this is not true. Academy owners are not always trying to get the best of teachers…sometimes they are just not correctly advised.

In my academy, I have given the order to stop doing this.

NB: does this imply if your academy keeps doing so, they are going against the law? Not necessarly, this is my reasearch and, as I’ve stated, I’ve received contradicting opinions about this. But I tend to beleive this practice is not allowed any more. I am sure your employer thinks this practice is legal, and does so accordingly.

What implications does this have to rates and contracts?

This affects the rate directly, it should be obvious. Academies cannot, with the same or less money being earned, keep the 15€ per hour rate. Because at the end of the contract, they have to pay 2 more days per month after the teaching season (around 25 extra days in 10 months). And margins for small academies, with small groups, do not allow this.

I’ve done some calculations (it is not straightforward as it depends on the hours taught and duration of the contract) but this implies a cost of around 1,5-2€ per hour.

So the current rate for per hour contracts, not my preferred type of contract but it is what teachers ask for (hourly mentality), is 13,5€ per hour. Which, at the end of the contract, after the payment of the untaken holidays, should be the same as the old 15€ per hour.

The problem is most teachers applying for jobs don’t want to learn about any of these issues, and demand the 15€ per hour rate, ignoring all the surrounding factors. So academies are not finding it easy to get back in track and do things by the book, because teachers have not informed themselves corretly about all the costs. Some have even told me “I don’t want to know about all this” (in an ostrich with its head in the sand attitude). But a teacher’s salary is not something decided in a whimp by owners…it is a balance between money being earned and costs. And, in this case, the apparent reduction is not really so.

I know this will reduce the number of candidates who will be interested in our offers. Many don’t see beyond the money they get in hand (that is one of the reasons why I can’t get teachers with part time or full time contracts). But I prefer to try and do things by the book. And I really do want teachers to get a proper finiquito at the end of their contract (let it be fijo discontinuo or a permanent termination).

And I honestly cannot pay a whole month at the end of the contract with the 15€ per hour rate for all teachers.

Why is this rate still 2€ over the convenio and why didn’t I chose the convenio rate? We thought about it but decided against if for two reasons:

  1. Convenio rates should be a minimum, even though they are a norm in most professions in these economic uncertain times. Whenver possible, one should try and pay more.
  2. I don’t teach languages, but do teach Science. And I know the amount of hours one takes to prepare classes and correct exercises. Most per hour teachers don’t get time for this (part time or full time do). So I think this should be included or compensated somewhat in their rate.

PD: Some teachers complain that “one cannot live properly with 13,5€ per hour”. Well, these rates are not supposed to be for full time contracts or part time contracts (and will never be). So you should not be “living” on these rates. However, if you were, with a 34 hour full time teaching schedule (some do more when working for various academies) the salary amounts to 1768€. It is not bad at all, as a starting rate. I work 13 hours per day, most days, Monday to Sunday, and don’t earn this.

Should teachers we earning more? If it were in my hands, much more, it is one of the most important professions out there. But one must remember it is not tbe best of time for language teaching anywhere in the world, nor are we in the best ecomomic situation we have been. Hundreds of academies all over Spain have closed down, and many more will in the next 2 years.

I hope I have shed a bit of light on this issue, and I hope it helps somebody.

And to all those who are offended by what I’ve written….open a business in Spain yourself….and “enjoy” the journey through Hell (don’t….I really don’t wish this on anyone, no matter the intellectual limitations he or she might have).

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