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This article is written by Mannan Gala, pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from LawSikho.

Introduction

Agreement letters for teachers are essentially formal employment contracts for teachers that specify the conditions of employment between a teacher and any educational institution. It is a legal document that binds the teacher and the academic institution for the employment of the teacher. This article elucidates on the important terms of a teacher agreement that every teacher must take into consideration before signing the employment agreement with the institution.

This article will be talking about teacher agreements, the important components of such agreements and the purpose behind drafting of such components. This article shall also draw attention to the difference in teacher agreement letters and their terms, depending upon the type and form of education imparted by such a teacher.

While working at a new job is thrilling and exciting, a teacher must always bear in mind that a contract is legally binding. Before binding oneself to such a legal agreement, it is important to understand the terms and clauses that are incorporated in such an agreement. These agreements contain significant provisions that affect the teacher’s rights in the workplace.

What are the important terms of the agreement letter for a teacher?

Whenever a teacher has been presented with an employment agreement for a term of one year or more, there are certain important clauses that must not be overlooked by a teacher while signing the agreement. Some of the clauses are as follows:

Employment Period

Employment Period is one of the most significant clauses in a teacher agreement as it enumerates the period of employment for the teacher. It also stipulates the type of employment to be practiced by the teacher. The teacher could be employed on a full-time basis or half-time basis. In some universities, teachers are hired on a trial basis or for a trial period which ranges from a period of 1 (one) month to 6 (six) months, during which the university could terminate the contract without compensation. 

This clause must specify the date of validity and applicability from the date of signing the contract until the length of expiry, which is usually 1 (one) year from the date of signing the contract for the first time. Based on the performance provided by the teacher, the university administration may offer a renewal of the contract.

Hours of Work/Part-time or Full Time 

This clause stipulates the hours of work to be performed by the teacher in a week, i.e., Monday-Friday, depending on the type of employment. The Right to Education Act, 2009 mandates a minimum of 45 working hours per week for a teacher, including preparation hours. The number of hours may vary if the teacher is employed on a part-time basis or as a substitute. The teacher must recognize the optimal hours required to for the school operations and endeavor to accept the minimum number of hours.

Responsibilities & Duties of the Employee

This clause enumerates the list of responsibilities/duties that are to be performed in the school/college/university by the teacher. Due care must be given while reading this clause as some schools/colleges/universities allocate such responsibilities which are not within the expertise of the teacher. As some colleges/schools/universities have prevalent vacancies for the post of a specialized teacher, for example, an English teacher or a Music teacher, the colleges ask such existing teachers to fill in such vacancies to save money at no extra cost or compensation provided to such teachers. 

This clause also gives a detailed list of duties that a teacher may have to perform during her tenure in that school/college/university. Some of the duties and responsibilities that may be mentioned in the agreement are as follows:

  1. The teacher shall work to the best of her abilities to educate the students in that particular subject she teaches.
  2. The teacher shall conduct and dress him/her in a professional manner.
  3. The teacher shall attend regular Parent-Teacher Meetings (P.T.A.) to share her ideas that may benefit all the teachers as well as the students in the school.
  4. The teacher shall prepare for class and supervise the homework done by the students. It shall also prepare student evaluation reports each week.
  5. The teacher shall be responsible for the general conduct, decorum, academic and social behavior of students in her/his classroom.
  6. The teacher must familiarize herself with the school policies, programs, events and curriculum.
  7. The teacher shall devote a reasonable amount of time to out of class curriculum and to extra-curricular activities performed by the students.
  8. A teacher must encourage and foster learning of students.

The teachers must carefully read all the responsibilities and duties before signing the teacher agreement.

Termination 

This clause lists the grounds for termination of a teacher. It is one of the most important clauses in a teacher agreement. The teacher shall be generally responsible for all the students taught under her/him and based on the performance of her/his students the teacher is evaluated by the Board of Trustees of the school/college/university. This clause lists all the reasons for the termination of employment of a teacher.

Some of the reasons for the termination of a teacher are as follows:

  1. The termination of employment of a tenured teacher during or at the end of the year shall be for immorality, misconduct in office, incompetency, disloyalty, neglect of duty and willful and persistent insubordination.
  2. Employment may also be terminated at the end of the school/college/university year because of reduction in the number of teachers required as a result of decreased enrollment or decrease in education services.
  3. The Board of Trustees may also suspend a teacher if the situation warrants it.
  4. A teacher may also be terminated from services when the teacher fails to return to service, except when caused by illness, after the expiration of leave of absence. 
  5. A teacher may be terminated from service due to willful misconduct and harassment caused to the students and colleagues of the school/college/university.
  6. Inefficiency or persistent violation of school laws, rules, regulations, policies or directives or any other conduct which materially impairs his/her effectiveness can lead to termination of employment of the teacher.
  7. Performance of any kind of criminal activity, including but not limited to drugs, bribes sexual activity, violence, alcohol which is against the school policies and regulations shall lead to termination of employment.
  8. One of the reasons and stringent policies of every school/college/university is the provision of private tuitions by teachers to students of such educational institutions. Such practices are strictly prohibited as it creates a sense of conflict between the teacher and those students that have avoided taking her/his private tuitions. It creates a sense of favoritism towards those students who have taken his/her tuitions. It also leads to a breach of confidentiality as such teachers tend to provide their students with the examination papers and test papers prior to their examinations.

Employment Fee or Salary/Benefits

This clause lists the amount of salary or employment fee a teacher is likely to get per month. The average fee or salary package for a teacher range from Rs. 22,000-50,000 in India. It could be more as well, depending on the type of employment, designation, place of employment etc. This clause shall stipulate the day of payment to be made each month. It shall also provide for overtime rate/wages in some cases. 

Along with salary packages, the agreement shall also contain several benefits like insurance, housing, airfare, transportation, years of experience etc. For example, a teacher with 2 years of prior experience will be given a higher salary as compared to a fresher. The agreement shall also be subjected to increase in pay of salary on the date indicated in the agreement. Being an employee of the school, the teacher may also be subjected to employee provident fund scheme and pension scheme benefits.

Employment Outside School

Most educational institutions prohibit full-time teachers to work in another place without the permission of the owner. This shall also include private tuitions conducted by such teachers after school/college. While this is found to be very common in India, it restricted by many educational institutions. Hence, it is advisable to carefully read this clause before signing the agreement.

Other Duties/Extra Curricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are generally defined as those voluntary activities sponsored or sanctioned by a school that supplement or complement the school’s instructional program but are not a part of it-for example, student government, interscholastic athletics, service clubs, drama and French clubs, and many others. This clause consists of various duties that a teacher is required to perform in addition to her to regular duties of teaching the students. Such duties/activities shall include, participation in quarterly teacher/staff meetings, conferences, including those prior to and following the school’s regular academic year and participation in all school activities including sports, drama, clubs, educational trips etc.

Types of Teacher Agreements

Teaching jobs and other jobs in school often work differently than other type of jobs. The type of teaching agreement depends on the type of teaching imparted by the teacher. The agreement could be job specific- for example, there could be a Music Teacher Agreement, specifically for music teachers. It shall consist of terms which shall be well-matched to a music teacher. 

In the same way there could be an exclusive teacher agreement for school teachers or college professors. These agreements shall differ based on the term of employment of the teacher. The teacher could be employed on a part-time basis or on a probationary period and accordingly the agreement would be altered to form a Part-Time Teacher Agreement or a Probationary Teacher Agreement respectively.

Conclusion

Each teacher agreement varies according to the term of employment and the kind of subject taught by the teacher. While a teacher agreement is truly an employment agreement at best, the clauses catalogued herein must be inspected must inspected thoroughly by the teacher before signing the agreement.


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