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Friday, May 04, 2007

Easy English Essen, Germany

"This is definitely one for Inspector McHammered to check out, I reckon!"
So says the infamous Sandy McManus.

The whole issue of "self-employed" versus "employed" status for teachers is a veritable can of worms. The employer pays much less (if not zero) payroll taxes and doesn't have to bother about such beasties as pay slips, employee rights etc, while if they are not careful the teacher will be left dealing with a ton of bureaucracy and hefty tax bills. In practice the "free"element of "free"lance is usually pretty much non-existent with the teacher being expected to teach classes on request from a sole employer.

The basic definition for being an employee is whether you are under the supervision of someone else who dictates the time place and content of what you teach. Clearly most teachers fall into that category and are not self-employed. If however they are genuinely freelance and working for a number of different schools, say doing in-company training and are in total control of the pedagogical side of things then a good case could be made that they are self-employed.

The "self-employed" racket has been stamped out in most European countries and Germany was until recently one of the few remaining countries where such practices were rife. The taxation exemption for EFL teachers in Germany has also been subjected to a clampdown and was reported a while back in the EL Gazette.

This is the posting that Sandy has put on his blog. I've chopped out quite a lot of bits that are emotive rants against the owner and just concentrated on the meaty stuff. The freelancer/employee factor comes over loud and clear. I suspect that one reason the owner wanted the teacher to phone the clients herself is because the teacher could then be proven to have dealt directly herself with the client in terms of organizing the time and place of the class (i.e freelance):

"I have had serious trouble with a school in Essen, Nordrhein Westfalen, named Easy-English

Complaints are/were: Confirming by email prior to moving to Germany that no tax or pension/social payments need to be paid to the German government for 2 years (contracted duration)

· 250 euros per month must be paid to the German pension fund, and tax must be paid to – totalling about 40% of wage, hence my departure from Germany , she encouraged illegal teachers so that she could pay low wages. Boss lied continually about tax and insurance until I hired a financial advisor, which I passed onto her, and she denied all knowledge.

· Boss took the money from my wages within 4 weeks of joining for the first months rent Confirming by email prior to moving to Germany that as a freelancer we have flexibility to do the hours we want

FIRED: Fired for cancelling 4 lessons per week when my status is freelancer, 3 months prior to the natural end of my contact.

MONEY: .......... She refused to contact students for me by phone to re-arrange lessons or such like (whether for personal or school reasons). She asked me to contact them...............

INSURANCE: Forced into a medical insurance contract with her husband for 300 euros per month, was not advised about the contract being bound to 2 years. She took advantage of my lack of German skills, which resulted in a bitter fight with her and her husband, the insurance company and me. After 3 months I won the right to cancel the contract.

RECRUITMENT: Job posting information are misleading and should clearly define what is involved with being a freelance teacher at easy English (tax, pension, health insurance, etc.).

LATE ARRIVAL PENALTY: If teachers arrive up to 15 minutes late for a class, they are charged for the entire 45 minute lesson, which the student still pays for as well as the teacher to the boss. Double bonus for her.

Any comments?

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland

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The TEFL Tradesman said...

What, me, 'infamous'?!

It reminds of that (very) old Carry On joke...

"ooh, infamy, infamy - they've all got it in for me!"

OK, I apologise for that...

Anonymous said...

You can find out more about Easy-English here:-

Their business slogan is: "The slightly different language school" - but they seem to be just as crap as so many others!!

Anonymous said...

The owner is out to make as much as she can, to say the least. I don't think she'd know the truth if it walked up and bit her on the ass. Not a nice person.

Anonymous said...

I just quit at Easy English after working only 3 months there. After giving the 1 month's notice that the contract said I must give, she refused to pay me for the month before I gave notice. I actually asked her face to face 2 times, "Do you mean you will pay me of not?" Twice, the answer was "I won't pay you." That was €2,100! I had to threaten her to get the money out of her. Ute Schulz is not a nice person to work for. I had to threaten to turn her over to the Ministry of Finance, for I found out she cooks her finanacial books to avoid a lot of taxes. Do not work for this school at all costs!!! I now work in Frankfurt and never go through any stress involving the people I work for. She uses fear, intimidation and pure manipulation to reneg on the promises she makes before she hires you.

Anonymous said...

Dear readers,
Sandy Mac is Nicola Jones who I apologized to for passing on incorrect information. Believe me, I have learned from this experience. Unfortunately, there was no reasoning with Nicola. She was so angry at my mistake she set her heart on destroying my reputation in the TEFL world. Most of what she writes is untrue, my only mistake was passing on information without checking it for accuracy beforehand.
The last anonymous person is Toni Schwindt, a US national who served jail time for child pornography before joining easy english - needless to say he didn't mention his criminal past when applying for the position. I did not terminate our contract when I found out, but gave him the chance to continue working with us - which he decided not to take. He broke his commitment and left us after three months only.
For more information on easy english and its ethics, as well as feedback from former teachers who do not feel the need to remain anonymous or operate under a pseudonym, feel free to contact me at
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I worked there too and found out the hard way. When she told me I was being charged for unpaid tax, she said she thought it wouldn't happen. And then when I said that she had to have known as she had been in business too long our relationship soured. She accused me of not thinking for myself and was quite nasty. If I hadn't agreed to leave I would have been stuck with a close to 2000 euro bill that she was not interested in helping with, as I was a "reelancer." When I split too days before I was to finish she removed all the money from my bank account in retaliation. It had been a very difficult point in my life and I didn't do everything right myself, but she certainly is not to be trusted. How can a women say there are no taxes to be paid yet have been in business for over 10 years with a clear conscience. Even if she is being straight now, be cautious.

Anonymous said...

Dear ´reelancer´,

How is it possible for someone to remove all the money in your bank account? Did you give the details?
Perhaps if you want to continue in the Tefl world you should know the difference between too and two, woman and women.