Print Posted 25/02/2017 in Teaching

Six Areas to watch in Studio Teaching Contracts

Six Areas to watch in Studio Teaching Contracts

What have yoga teachers and lawyers got in common. The answer might be more than you think ! It is not just stressed out lawyers who need yoga teachers to help alleviate aches and pains from years spent hunched over a desk . As some yoga studios become bigger and more powerful has anyone stopped to ask whether the contracts yoga teachers are asked to sign are fair or not?

At this stage you might be asking yourself how I am best equipped to answer this question. As a practicing lawyer and practicing yoga teacher I just might be that nerd who actually reads and understands what my fellow yoga teachers have been asked to sign.

 First things first. Your contract with yoga studio is obviously not a fixed employment contract. At Law you're what is termed an independent contractor – which gives you and the yoga studio flexibility. So the terms should be loose and light touch but sadly this is not always the case. Let us look at a few key areas which should ring alarm bells for you.

1) Non-competition clause - Even if your contract is properly put together recording you as an independent contractor the studio may still put in a non competition clause . Do not agree to such clauses because they can quite easily prevent you from working from any other yoga studio.

2) Obligations on the Teacher - Look at the obligations which studio will impose upon you as a teacher. No one minds being asked to teach to a high standard. Should this however extend to keeping all equipment in good condition? I would argue not.

3) Obligations of the studio  - And what about obligations that the yoga teacher needs to impose on the yoga studio?

The teacher needs to know the studio will be kept in good repair and will comply with all statutory and health and safety requirements. It is really important to know that the surface of the floor for example is properly maintained. Following on from this while every teacher recognizes they must maintain their own insurance policy the studio too must be under an obligation to produce evidence of building insurance for the studio. Teachers should never agree to indemnify a studio against any loss – this is harsh and particularly unfair. It should all be covered by insurance.

4) Photos - next we move onto the minefield of intellectual property and confidentiality. Many studios will insist they have the right to take your photo as a teacher. That may be acceptable but you too should be able to use any photos that are taken. Also consider that you be permitted to take photos of yourself whilst you are teaching at the studio and can use those photos as you choose.

5) Confidentiality - These clauses in contracts seriously concern me. It is as if the yoga teacher is treated as working as an assistant manager on a reception like a fixed term employee - but as we know this is not the case. And by agreeing to any confidentiality clauses you may not be able to have any contact with any students you teach even if they contact you on social media. That is way too restrictive. It can even go further than this where you put on a workshop at studio and the studio are able to take ownership of the idea and the concept and you are prevented from doing it again anywhere else in the future. Some contracts will even tie you into confidentiality a year after you have stopped working there – this is to be avoided !

6) Flexibility - Finally with a flexible contract just as you slip into it you need to get out of it fairly easily. You should be able to terminate upon a months notice and similarly should not have to give more than a couple of weeks notice if you are going to be away. I hear of some studios that fine their teachers if they do not turn up. This seems punitive to me.

 In summary do make sure you read the contracts that a studio presents you would do not assume that they work by the same principles that you do !

Stephen Marks
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