Here’s a very common scenario: A yoga teacher teaches at a studio, makes connections with many students, some of these students want private lessons and hire the teacher, independently from the yoga studio, to give them private lessons at home. I’ve seen this happen with individual students, and even with an entire group of students. Basically, the studio gets cut out of the picture, potentially never seeing another penny of the student’s (or students’) money. Does the yoga teacher behave ethically in this situation?
I think there are many considerations here, and the answer to whether or not the yoga studio should get a cut of private lessons is not clear. If the private lessons take place at the yoga studio, it seems plausible to me that the yoga teacher should be paid a flat rate, and the yoga studio should get the rest. Something like a 50/50 or 40/60 or 60/40 split sounds reasonable to me. But what happens when the student says something like this to the teacher?: “Hey, why don’t you just come to my house and give me lessons there? You’ll get 100% of the money, and I won’t have to pay as much.”
Technically speaking (one might argue), the yoga teacher is not really providing the same service at the person’s house. Giving private lessons in someone’s home involves commuting time, wear and tear on the yoga teacher’s car, gas, and other costs which the teacher won’t incur if he/she simply teaches private lessons at the studio where he/she already works. In other words, this might be a consideration in favor of saying that the yoga teacher acts in a perfectly ethical way when he/she takes a private lesson client away from the yoga studio, because the yoga studio doesn’t offer private in-home lessons, and the yoga teacher does.
But what happens if the yoga studio demands a cut of the money from the private in-home lessons? Some studio owners do exactly this, claiming that the yoga teacher never would have met the student had the teacher not worked at the yoga studio in the first place; thus, the studio is owed a kind of referal fee or royalty. If the yoga teacher does pay a kickback to the yoga studio, should it be a one time thing ? Or is the teacher obligated to pay a percentage of his/her earnings back to the studio indefinitely?
I’m interested to hear what other yoga teachers, students, and studio owners think about this issue. It’s a touchy issue, and it’s one that can often strain the relationship between owners and their employees.