What does a class cancellation policy entail and why is it important?

It’s common for those who receive a fixed monthly salary to be unfamiliar with or not fully understand the necessity of cancellation policies. These policies are often applied in professional services paid by the hour, where reserving the professional’s time to provide a service is required.

The justification lies in the fact that the professional allocates a portion of their time to attend to a specific individual and provide a service. If this person cancels the scheduled appointment, the professional will not receive compensation for the reserved time unless they adhere to a cancellation policy.

Some individuals may deem it unfair to pay for a service not received due to a cancellation. However, if we transpose this situation to any professional field, it would be akin to the employer informing you that you don’t need to work on a certain day and therefore deducting that time from your salary. This could lead to the decision to leave the job if the employer repeatedly instructs you not to work. Many would make this decision due to the lack of control over working or not, and thus, over their income.

To mitigate these issues beyond the control of the freelance teacher, it’s common to establish cancellation policies. In the language teaching profession, which doesn’t always receive adequate recognition, schools and teachers commonly protect themselves through 24-hour cancellation policies. This means that students or clients who don’t notify of a class cancellation with at least 24 hours’ notice will be charged for that canceled hour.

Does this measure completely solve the uncertainty problem regarding a freelance teacher’s working hours?

Not entirely. While having a cancellation policy can assist the teacher, it doesn’t offer a perfect guarantee. On one hand, unfortunate situations may arise where there’s a high number of cancellations in a month, meaning that if the teacher doesn’t adhere to a cancellation policy, they won’t receive payment for any of those canceled classes. Additionally, the teacher could experience up to a 25% or more reduction or more in income in a profession that’s already not very well-paid. On the other hand, even if a cancellation policy is followed, cancellations notified in advance won’t generate income. And, let’s be honest, most of the time the teacher won’t have the option to fill that time with another client.

In recent years, due to the increase in busy schedules, unforeseen events, and lack of commitment, there has even been a tightening of these conditions, with the substitution of cancellation policies for advance payments being quite common. In other words, many schools and even freelance teachers are requesting advance payment from their students for reserved hours, regardless of whether they’re received or canceled, and regardless of the notice given. So, adhering to a 24-hour cancellation policy isn’t the strictest case you could face if you’re a language student.

What happens when it’s the teacher who cancels a class?

Some people question why, in that case, the teacher isn’t required to compensate their student financially. This question may seem offensive, but it’s valid and has a simple answer. If the teacher cancels a class, they’ll be financially disadvantaged by losing payment for that class. Additionally, if the teacher is rational, they’ll likely seek alternatives to reschedule the canceled class. In summary, the teacher is typically the least interested party in canceling a class, whereas the potential harm to the student is comparatively minimal. Of course, it would be desirable for them to inform about the cancellation with as much advance notice as possible.

Causes of force majeure

As always, there are exceptions to the rules; cancellations with less than 24 hours’ notice should not be taken into account whenever there are causes of force majeure, such as: A sudden medical emergency, a mass transportation issue in a city, a natural disaster, a power outage, unexpected security-related conflicts, etc.

In summary

Cancellation policies are crucial for both teachers and students in the field of language education. Understanding and respecting these policies not only ensures the financial stability of professionals but also promotes a relationship of trust and collaboration between both parties. We appreciate your understanding and support in this regard and look forward to continuing to work together to create a positive and productive learning environment for all. Thank you for your attention and commitment!