Many businesses are moving their operations completely online, particularly as they adapt to the impact of COVID-19. 

In recent months at Sprintlaw, we’ve seen a great rise in online coaching businesses, online directories, telehealth providers, and more.

Another significant growth area is online tutoring. With COVID-19 disrupting schooling and seeing students at all levels learning from home, this is a great opportunity for educators to take their skills online. 

Before you start offering online tutoring services, however, it’s important you have the right legal set up for your business. 

Here at Sprintlaw, we’re a completely online firm, so we know the go! Below, we’ll run through the key legals you’ll need to get your online tutoring business on the right track. 

Protect Your Business With An Online Tutoring Agreement 

An Online Tutoring Agreement is a contract that sets out the terms and conditions between you and the students you’re tutoring. 

It provides clarity around both parties’ roles and responsibilities, limits your liability, and reduces the chance of disputes occurring. 

An Online Tutoring Agreement typically addresses the following: 

  • Scope of Services
    • What services are you offering your clients?
    • How long will tutoring sessions be? 
    • What subjects will be covered in the tutoring sessions?
    • What platform will be used for online tutoring sessions? 
  • Payment Terms
    • What payment schedule will you use? (For example, you may use a subscription-based payment schedule or an hourly payment schedule.) 
    • When will you expect to be paid? Will you be paid partially or wholly upfront? Or will you expect payment within a certain number of days after the tutoring session?
  • Liability Protection
    • How will you protect yourself if something goes wrong? 
    • What will happen if a client is unhappy or suffers loss due to your tutoring services? 
  • Term and Termination
    • How long will the tutoring arrangement last?
    • How can either party get out of the arrangement? Will there be any consequences for doing so?
  • Dispute Resolution:
    •  What happens if there is a dispute?

Having an Online Tutoring Agreement is essential for ensuring you and your clients are on the same page. We recommend you speak to a lawyer to ensure your agreement reflects the unique nature of your tutoring business. 

Are You Hiring Other Tutors?

If you are thinking of hiring tutors other than yourself to teach your students, you need to have an Employment or Contractor Agreement in place. 

These agreements outline the roles and responsibilities of you and your tutors. It makes it clear to tutors what is expected of them and ensures your business is legally protected

An agreement with your employees or contractors should address things like:

  • What services will be provided by your employees or contractors? What subjects will they tutor? What platform will they use? How many students will they tutor?
  • How will your employees or contractors be paid? Will it be weekly, fortnightly or monthly—or on a per-client basis?
  • Who is liable if something goes wrong? You or the employee/contractor?
  • How can the agreement be terminated?
  • What happens in the event of a dispute?

Drafting an Employment Contract or Contractor Agreement can be tricky. It’s not advisable to draft these types of contracts without the assistance of a lawyer. Employment law is a heavily regulated area and if you accidentally include something that is unfair or illegal, your business could incur fines.  

Also, before you bring on any tutors to help you out, it’s important you know the difference between an employee and a contractor. Getting this wrong could have massive consequences for your business. 

Do Online Tutoring Businesses Need A Privacy Policy? 

A Privacy Policy outlines how your business collects, stores, handles and uses personal information. It assures your clients that their personal information is being collected and used in an appropriate manner. 

To protect both you and your clients, your online tutoring business should have a Privacy Policy in place.

Even if you’re operating on a platform that already has its own Privacy Policy, it’s still advisable to get a specific Privacy Policy for your business. This ensures that any unique elements of your business are addressed, and that the privacy of you and your clients is fully protected.

What About Website Terms and Conditions? Do I Need Those, Too?

If you have a website for your online tutoring business, Website Terms and Conditions will provide general rules and disclaimers for those who visit it. This is a really important document to have, as you can’t control how people use the material on your website. 

Website Terms and Conditions contain: 

  • Disclaimers in case a visitor to your site is hacked while using it
  • Disclaimers for third party links
  • Copyright ownership of the content on the website

As is the case with your Privacy Policy, if your online tutoring business is using a platform that has its own Website T&Cs, you should still have your own. While these platforms may have their own T&Cs, they are not customised to your business’ particular needs. 

Getting A Working With Children Check

It is likely that, through your tutoring business, you will be working with students under the age of 18. 

Even though you’ll be interacting with students online, it’s still important that you and your employees or contractors have a Working with Children Check (WWCC). 

A WWCC lasts five years in NSW. You’ll need to keep on top of your state or territory’s specific requirements. 

Choosing A Tutoring Platform 

You may wish to launch your online tutoring business independently. Alternatively, you may choose to use a pre-existing platform such as Teachable.

Although Teachable has a solid set up with its own Privacy Policy and Website Terms and Conditions, it’s still important that you draft your own versions of these documents (as we’ve discussed above). 

Alternatively, you may choose to use a platform such as Zoom to conduct your tutoring sessions. 

Both options are completely suitable for an online tutoring business. 

However, you need to have a good look at the platform’s Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, Disclaimers and, if applicable, its payment methods. To minimise your legal risk, you should customise your legals to your business’ needs as much as possible. 

Need Help?

The right legal set up is the foundation of a successful online tutoring business.

It may seem like there’s a lot to get done. But don’t stress; our experienced team of lawyers is here to help.

Contact us at team@sprintlaw.com.au or give us a call on 1800 730 617 for a free, no-obligations chat.

About Sprintlaw

Sprintlaw is a new type of law firm that operates completely online and on a fixed-fee basis. We’re on a mission to make quality legal services faster, simpler and more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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