How to Leave Your Chinese Job

Unfortunately, sometimes you come to China and get a position you thought would be a great fit but it turns out to be hell and you want to get out.  I have encountered teachers in this predicament and have advised them on how to handle these situations; therefore I thought I would blog about it and place it all out in the open.

  1. First of all, It is difficult to research every position and know exactly how it will be  for you.  Not everyone has the same experiences with employers, and just like in the states sometimes you just don’t get a long with your coworkers or even bosses.  So, the first step is to decide if you really want to leave or not.  Once you put it out in the universe that you want to leave a school, the entire environment will change.  The boss may treat you differently or may not even speak to you anymore. Your co-workers may even avoid you ..thinking you will cause them harm on your way out in some way.
  2. I suggest you find another position before you just leave a job in China. Your visa has to be sponsored and valid; once you leave a position they can cancel your expert certificate and this can cause you a whole heap of trouble. You don’t want to be in China without a proper visa, you could be fined, banned or worse jailed.  Your new job can start your transfer paperwork so their is not gap in your visa status, so it is best to have another job on deck before you start your exit process.  
  3. Next, you must give at least a month’s notice before you leave.  The reason for this is so they can replace you and so that you can get the required paperwork you need to continue working in China.  This is a release letter with a red stamp and an employment letter or recommendation letter with a red stamp.   These two letters are mandatory and must be provided by the employer, without them your new employer cannot transfer your visa.  Also, some companies have a contract breaking fee that can be as high as 10,000 rmb that they can say you owe for breaking your contract.  The notice usually voids that.
  4. Never burn your bridges, if possible try not to leave on bad terms.  Negativity can possibly follow you around China, employers talk to each other and negative feedback can make it very difficult for you to continue working in China. Arguing and fighting with a company usually gets you nowhere.  I have yet to see a foreigner fight with a company and win. Usually the courts agree with the Chinese side of the situation.
  5. Getting your final paycheck can sometimes be daunting, some schools will try to find all possible things to charge you  so they can deduct it from your last salary.  So, I suggest you keep records of everything you have paid for or the school has paid for you.  Worse case scenario cut your losses and take what they give you and get out.

Moving to a new position is stressful enough without have issues with your old place of employment not wanting to release your paperwork or your salary; keeping your belongings in the apartment they provided.  So, always act in a professional, manner when dealing with the leaders of these companies.  They do not take confrontation well.  We always believed the squeaky wheel gets the oil… however in China the squeaky wheel can stay on the wagon and squeak all day and no one will fix it, out of spite.

If the situation at your workplace is horribly bad you can always report it to the Labor bureau or to your embassy.  They will take the information however, I personally haven’t seen them do anything to help teachers in bad situations.  Blogging about the school and word of mouth usually helps other foreigners to stay away from these companies but that is pretty much all you can do.

Basically, there is not a lot you can do when you feel like your employer is not behaving properly but to get out and find a better place of employment.  Getting lawyers and calling the police may help in our home countries but in China it could take months and even years before you would ever resolve a bad situation in that way.   Try to always keep your cool and show whatever respect you need to show to get what you need to leave.   Remember you are on their turf so you have to play it their way.


until next time…….



2 thoughts on “How to Leave Your Chinese Job

  1. C Lew

    I love your blog BUT don’t think I want to work in China. It’s bad enough being black, female and in Charge here. However, I think China may be something that would block me from advancement. Just out of Spite. Smh.

    1. well, I always say China isn’t for everyone. You have to be a special kind of crazy… to stay here..hehehe…. I always view China as America in the 1920s or 30s….. when it comes to the working mentality

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