Types of contract for teachers in Madrid. What to expect and why.

[:en]People who come to Madrid to start teaching English are not normally used to Spanish bureaucracy. Don’t worry, you will soon get used to it (evil laugh).

In this article we are going to try to clarify what type of contracts you can be offered and why. That way you will be able to go to your interviews knowing what to ask for.

There are the ways schools and academies will try to hire you by. We will talk about rates another day:

  • Without a contract. Yes, don’t be surprised. It’s obviously not legal, but unfortunately you will be offered to work without a contract in many places. A huge amount of teachers in Madrid work without a contract, basically because they need the hours.
    The excuses given out by schools to offer this will be many, the most common one, you will be paid more this way, and paid in hand.
    Remember that what the school is doing by not giving you a contract is saving taxes, so they are earning more at your cost. And they can lower prices that way…. which ends up in lowering the quality too.
    Understand that you are not paying your dues to the Spanish social security, your time worked won’t count for any legal reason or for any future recommendation. Plus, the fact that, you are not covered by the school’s insurance.

I personally don’t recommend teachers to accept such offers, but I understand many need to pay their rent and end up working this way.

  • Per hour contracts. The most common. You will be offered to a contract for the hours you work for. It’s very common that academies offer a few hours at first, to get to know the teacher, and then start increasing those hours (this should be reflected in the contract).

My advice for teachers working in Madrid, especially at academies, is to work for two or three chosen centres and fill your days with hours offered by them.

Part time contracts and per hour contracts come in all kinds. Although the administration tends to ask for a type called “fijo discontínuo” for those teachers who will continue to work for an academy more than a year. It means you have your hours during the year, those hours stop in summer or Christmas´ period, and then continue after those holidays, without a need of ending the contract.

Contracts of this type can also be per project. That’s the risk of having per hour contracts, clients stop classes and groups finish their classes after several months. That is why I recommend to have your eggs in more than one basket, the chance to get those hours filled again are much bigger.

You can earn A LOT of money with per hour contracts, as the rate is higher than the full time ones. But it takes a lot of time and effort to build your timetable, you can lose classes and find yourself having to look for more in half session, it’s obviously less secure and you don’t earn a fixed amount every month. Another big drawback is that you don’t normally have classes during the months of July and August, or during Christmas…so save money for those months.

  • Full time contracts. The “El Dorado” of contracts. The one every teacher is looking for. A full time contract for a school or academy.
    Why? Your hours are fixed and you know how much you will earn every month. It is also a better contract to ask for loans, mortgages … And you don’t need worrying about losing classes…it’s up to schools to fill your timetable as much as possible.

There is another advantage which, unfortunately, is not applied by schools and academies. If a teacher is going to work for more than an academic year, full time contracts should continuous and teachers should have paid holidays. HOWEVER, most centres end the contract at the beginning of holidays and start it back again in September or October, to save that money. Some however (the least) do pay holidays to their teachers.

The drawback of full time contracts is the same as anywhere: the rate is lower than in per hour contracts.

  • Part time contracts. A variation of the full time contract where you are offered a morning or afternoon contract. It should have the advantages of the full time contract (a fixed rate independent of the hours, paid holidays and not having to worry about filling up those hours with classes) but it’s also paid at a lower rate than per hour contracts.

A nice arrangement is to have a part time contract (morning or afternoons) and then fill your hours with per hour contracts in other academies or with one to one classes.

  • Self-employed. I leave self-employment for the end of the list, as I consider it’s NEVER a good idea in Spain. But again you will be offered to become self-employed many times as it’s cheaper for schools to hire you this way.
    Self-employed workers in Spain (autónomos) have little to no rights. They are considered a risk by banks, insurance companies …
    You have to pay a fixed amount to the government, no matter what ever your monthly earnings are or even though you earn nothing. There is a fixed fee for new autónomos….but it lasts only for a certain time. Then the fee is something like 250€.
    And you have to fill and send your tax forms every three months period.

It is only a good idea if you are going to work on several projects and want to be able to bill your clients. If you decide to be self-employed, remember you should ask for a higher rate as you, and not the school, will be paying for your taxes. I also recommend you to hire a legal advisor (asesoría) for taking care of your taxes.

I hope I’ve been able to clarify a bit the mess of contracts in Spain, I’ve tried simplifying it, and in each case it is different. This is only for people belonging to the EU (Schengen Treaty), teachers with Visas are a different case, and we shall be talking about them on another post.[:]

2 thoughts on “Types of contract for teachers in Madrid. What to expect and why.

  1. What about the “fija discontinua” type contract with the option to unemployment benefit?

    1. Hello Jayne, you are right. We had an inspection last summer and they recommended all contracts (per hour, part time and full time) which were going to be renewed next year to be fijo discontínuo.
      So for us, all those types of contract are fijo discontínuo. I know many academies do all sorts of contracts…but many are not even legal if reviewed.

      I was talking in general terms, of course there are variations for each contract and you can even hire teachers as Assistants or Teachers.
      Thanks for reading us and taking the time to comment. 😀

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