In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to the start at your new school, in your new host country. What are all the must-haves then? Check out our blog series here to read all about the ones that we have discussed so far.
Must-have #13: Learning how to get reimbursed and meeting the business office staff
It takes so much money to move yourself from one place to another. Now add in the fact that you are shipping boxes and whatnot half way across the world, and the cost just gets higher and higher. Many times, international school teachers need to pay for these shipping costs upfront. Hopefully you are getting an relocation allowance (not all international school offer this though) as there are also many other things that you will need to pay for upfront (e.g. the flight, extra baggage, visa costs, etc.). It is a tough time financially, that’s for sure.
When you finally get to your new school in your new country, you almost want to make a beeline to the business office to immediately get some of your money back! It is not that easy though at a number of international schools. Helping new teachers get reimbursed should be as easy as pie, but at For-profit schools (for example), it can take a loooong time and much paperwork to get your money back.
There are two ways to get reimbursed at an international school: the easy way and the hard way.
The easy way of course is the preferred way. You go in, hand in a receipt/reimbursement form, and then you either get paid right there in the local currency (e.g. cash) or they make a bank transfer that is made to your local bank account and you either receive that money that same day or the next day. You might say that the goal of all international schools should be to make sure that getting money back to its teachers is as easy and as quick as possible.
To also make things easy, the dream would be that somebody would take you to the business office and introduce you to all the important people in the business office, all within the first week at work. Word of advice: go in with a huge smile on your face and your hand extended out to shake everyone’s hand, also remember to say many thank yous and make some friendly conversation to get to know the staff more personally. Because every month or so, of your first (and second, third, etc.) year, you will be walking into that business office wanting some money or some assistance with a number of financial issues, and you will need to have a good relationship with these guys. So make sure that somebody is there during your orientation to get you started on the right foot with the business staff.
The hard way to get reimbursed is every international school teacher’s worst nightmare. You don’t want to be worrying about getting money back from your new international school (or even worrying about getting your salary paid on time!). It is stressful that’s for sure. Also, it can distract you from doing your job at times. In some countries though, it is not the school’s fault that makes getting reimbursed a difficult task. The country itself can have certain laws and regulations that make the reimbursement process a difficult one for expats. It can be very confusing to some new teachers, so how nice if there is straight-away somebody that will “show you the ropes” during new teacher orientation.
The business staff play a huge part in the wellbeing and staff morale of an international school. Knowing the business staffs’ names and getting introduced to them as soon as you start working there can really have a positive effect to your experience starting at your new school. Also, make sure to take a few notes during your orientation week/days about how to get reimbursed for things the correct way at your school.
Luckily on International School Community we have a new comment topic that specifically addresses this issue of getting reimbursed. It is called: What is the process of getting reimbursed for things?
We have 2 comments so far in this topic on our website since it is so new:
American International School of Lusaka –
“Pretty basic. Show receipts, get paid. Flights can be a bit of a hassle in terms of dealing with the business office and its interpretation of “cheapest, most direct.”
Western International School of Shanghai –
“All receipts must be kept and submitted with a filled out form to the director who then signs and returns them to the finance office. From the day of leaving the forms at the director’s office it might take 4-6 weeks to see any money back.”
If you currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the recent past, share the information and details about getting things reimbursed. You can find easy access to all international schools on our Schools List page.
So, does your international school have an easy, confusing, or difficult way of getting reimbursed for things? Please share your experiences!