I've no intention of boring you to death with the whole letter, but the main idea centred around a common practice at many shifty private EFL schools, i.e., paying their staff an hourly rate for teaching, then adding other non-teaching tasks and refusing to pay for them, claiming that the remuneration is included in the hourly teaching rate. The key paragraphs were these:
"...my contract states that I am obliged to work one evening a month to either supervise students or provide entertainment for them, on or off the school premises. No extra payment is given for this, the argument being that my hourly rate covers the extra three hours per month I am expected to give to my employer."
"However, in your article you state that under existing employment laws, 'every hour worked has to be paid'. So, is my employer breaking the law by insisting that my extra three hours a month are 'already paid'?"
"On a related note, you also state in the article that, according to the law, any hour .spent at the employer's disposal' is to be paid for. In that case, what about all the preparation, marking, and test creating that I do at home? The old argument usually repeats the mantra about the hourly rate covering all the time spent preparing classes and marking the students' work, etcetera; but again, this would appear to be illegal, according to UK employment law."
The reply that I received from the EL Gazette was exemplary and detailed - and I'll post it on this blog later this month. However, when I sent the letter to English UK for comment, pointing out that it appeared to indicate illegal practices at one of their member schools, the reply could not have been more different. In fact, a certain lickspittle by the name of Mark Rendell (see picture above) could only just about manage, after a month or so, to find some time to dismiss the whole idea. His exact and condescending words were these...
Thank you for your email and comments regarding the recent article in the EL Gazette. I do apologize for not getting back to you earlier; I was away on vacation and last week we had our annual StudyWorld event. It is a requirement of accreditation and in turn membership of English UK that members comply with all relevant legal and regulatory legislation. In cases where an employee is concerned that his employer is not meeting its legal obligations we would recommend firstly, discussing any grievances with the employer and secondly, if the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, approaching the relevant legislative body for assistance.
Deputy Chief Executive
Well, that was extremely helpful of Mr Rendell, don't you think?! In other words, if you have a problem with your employer, if you think he's screwing you over AND breaking the law, don't bother us at all - 'cos we don't care! Incredible as it may seem, English UK is happy to admit to having no interest in knowing when their own member-schools are deliberately disregarding the law! That obviously says a lot about their bad attitude towards EFL teachers in the UK.
Which is to be expected, I suppose. After all, the toady Mark Rendell has had a glorious career at none other than EF, that well-known Woolworths of the Whiteboard World. But, even more appropriately, English UK is, according to its own website:
English UK - the world's leading language teaching association.
Now, don't you find it just a little strange that 'the world's leading language association' doesn't give a toss about the teachers that work in the UK Tefl industry? Or am I being a shade too naive - cynical even?
In fact, what they really care about, of course, is making more and more money for their members - the language school owners. From their website, again, it states the following:
English UK has five main aims:
- Quality assurance, especially through the Accreditation UK Scheme, which we run in partnership with the British Council.
- Professional development, consultancy and research.
- Representation and lobbying both in the UK and internationally.
- Marketing and promotion, especially in new and developing markets.
- Business services and business development.
Not a word about looking after the teachers, though, eh? You might have thought, foolish Tefler, that 'quality assurance' had some correlation with EFL teachers' terms and conditions - but English UK have other ideas. Of course, there is no parallel between the interests of the members of English UK and the EFL teachers they employ - none at all, is there! That's probably why they employ former EF tossers to do their grubby little work for them.
So, three cheers for English UK!!
UPDATE: Only now, two weeks later, do I remember sending Mark Rendell this reply. Needless to say, he didn't respond!
Thanks very much for your reply. Am I to assume that, by your own admission, English UK is not interested in knowing if its own member-schools are flouting the law? Quite frankly, I am astounded by this admission, which clearly says volumes about your attitude towards EFL teachers.
Perhaps you would like to elaborate upon your statement?