What is the Difference Between a Freelance and an Independent Teacher?

There are 3 categories of teacher employed by English schools and training companies in Italy – freelance, independent and staff.

The type of employment contract offered will depend on the teacher’s situation and whether the school is an agency (and so effectively taking a commission on hours taught) or a company.

1. A freelancer is paid exclusively for the number of hours taught each month and has an Italian VAT number (‘partita Iva‘ – see the FAQ mentioned below), and so for legal and financial purposes is effectively a small company.

2. An independent teacher (or ‘associate’) does not have a VAT number but is also paid exclusively for the number of hours taught each month, and often works for more than one company or school simultaneously (this is also true for a freelancer of course). An independent teacher can be employed under either the second or third type of contract as explained in the FAQ on teaching contracts, and is also sometimes compensated for time spent travelling and/or paid a bonus upon completion of their contract.

3. A staff teacher is paid a fixed monthly salary which is reasonably independent of the actual number of hours spent in the classroom (though with a certain number of hours expected) and the contract often includes provisions for overtime. A full time teacher can be employed under the first or second type of contract as explained in the FAQ mentioned above.

Freelance teachers need excellent business acumen and planning as their position is often quite precarious. Independent teachers are by far the largest category of teachers working in Italy, whether for a private language school, an agency or a state school. Freelancers are often employed by schools or agencies that require a lot of flexibility or have few hours to offer, or by direct corporate clients.

“Independent teachers are the largest category in Italy, working for language schools and agencies.”

The pros and cons of each type of teaching position should be considered and clarified with any potential employer based on your personal requirements and preferences.

The practice of hiring freelancers has recently become much more prevalent in Italy due to frequent, confusing and sometimes ‘difficult’ changes in Italian employment law, and offer the employer advantages in terms of a lower tax burden, increased flexibility and weaker commitments, though often to the detriment of the teacher.

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