My five kids are all getting ready to go back to school in the next week and along with registration for school comes paperwork…lots of paperwork.
Dance schools are no exception. In fact, among all the studio owners I have spoken with this year (and there have been hundreds), not a single one allows students to participate without signed registration forms.
And, yet for as many who are diligent with student paperwork, there are half as many who take the same care to create a dance teacher contract before class is in session.
If you have other people teaching for you, check out this list for 10 Tips for a Confident Dance Teacher Contract:
- Binding – The first part of the employment contract should sets the stage for the rest of agreement. “Binding” establishes that the document is a binding legal document for the term set forth in the contract.
- Terms – The terms spell out the basic agreement of how long your employee will work (usually the length of your dance season) and what they will do (position) during that time. To avoid possible future questions or problems, be as detailed as possible when describing what an employee’s responsibilities will be for the length of the contract.
- Liquidated Damages Clause – This clause outlines what will happen if either party fails to fulfill the contract. For example, what will the consequence be if a teacher decides to leave mid-season? Spell it out now to avoid problems later.
- Non-Compete – A non-compete clause protects you by prohibiting an employee from working for another studio, or opening their own studio, within a certain amount of miles and length of time. Non-compete language and viability varies from state to state, so check with your attorney for state specific language.
- Closure Clause – This clause allows for the contract to become null and void if the studio ceases operations for a certain period of days (30 days is typical). Causes for ceasing operations include, but are not limited to, natural disaster, mechanical failure, fire, theft, lawsuit, bankruptcy, and personal emergency of the owner.
- Compensation – This is the area to spell out what the employee will earn in exchange for the services provided. Be sure to account for compensation for non-teaching time such as meetings, rehearsals, recitals and competitions.
- Benefits – You may be thinking, “I don’t offer benefits,” but I am confident you do. Do you provide complimentary lessons for children of staff members? That’s a benefit to your employees. Do you pay for convention fees or other continuing education opportunities? Again, that’s a benefit. A contract is an opportunity to spell out the great things you do for your employees over and above an hourly wage.
- Absences – Now is the time to establish what the acceptable number of absences will be for the employees at your studio and how absences will affect pay and other privileges.
- Professional Courtesies – A series of “professionals courtesies” are outlined in our employment contracts and include things such as arriving 15 minutes early to class, wearing neat hairstyles, adhering to dress code, returning messages within 24 hours and reporting any problems with students, parents or the facility to the leadership team in timely manner.
- Employee Restrictions – Is there anything that is off limits for your employees? For example, our employees are not allowed to drive students to events, to use office equipment for personal use or to share confidential information about students. Any restrictions should be noted in your contracts.
You may also give consideration to including a policy regarding social media and a photo and video release as part of your employment contracts.
Regardless of your studio size or geographic location, a well-written contract is a foundation for a healthy employer-employee relationship. Will you take the time to write, or update, yours this year?
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The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.