Question asked –
I’ve been offered an ESL teaching contract at a school in Seoul. The contract looks normal except I don’t see any sick days included.
What it does say is if I take a sick day they will take it from my pay. Is this legal. Also, if I quit, want to be notified 60 days before I do so. Are these two clauses fair?
Read 10 Answers
“You should be getting at least 3 sick days per contract year based on Korean Labour laws. But… Koreans never get sick, so don’t embarrass yourself by taking them :)”
“I’ve heard it’s 3-5 sick days per year. What happens if you’re sick for a couple of weeks? I remember getting terrible food poisoning and I was out for 8 days. Lost 15 pounds but the school kept calling me every day to see if I was coming in. Yeah, right!”
“What makes you think you’ll get a better sick day policy outside of Seoul? I would think they’re all the same 3-5 days per year.”
“I believe they used to grant employees 10 sick days per year, but teachers abused the privilege and they dropped it down to 3.”
“I would never take a job outside of Seoul based on receiving 3 sick days or no sick days. You’ll end up spending a lot more traveling into Seoul on the weekends to have fun with your friends. Cause, they’ll all be in Seoul and you won’t. Forfeit the sick days. Not worth it.”
“60 days notice sounds fair, no? How long did it take the school from the time you applied to the time you got hired? 3-6 months I bet? Give them 60 days notice. It’s not easy hiring another foreign teacher. There are costs when you quit and they have to go through the entire hiring process again.”
“You could always ask for the 30 days notice and 3 sick days. Negotiate! That is, if you’re a pretty white female from the US who went to an Ivy leage school. If you’re like the rest of us, good luck!”
“For Korean workers, it’s 30 days notice, but you won’t be sued if you quit earlier. Just to give you some context, in Canada it’s 14 days notice.”
“The majority of Korean contracts say 60 days, but that’s not the law. That’s their own contract verbiage. Regardless, if you find yourself quitting early and them holding back salary, and you wind up at the labour board, then you’ll be on the losing end. These things take time and for every day it’s wrapped up in arbitration, that’s every working dollar you lose.”
“Do yourself a favour and reject the job offer. Wait for them to ask why, then tell them why. If they won’t bend on the sick day policy or the 60 day policy then ask for a bit higher pay, or some other benefit. If I give up this, then give me that negotiation strategy. If they say “no way” to any of it, then look for another job. There are hundreds of jobs posted every day in Korea. Add up every single job for every employer. As long as you have the qualifications, you’ll get other offers. Personally, the only place I’d go teach besides Seoul is Busan. It has warmer weather, a beach, near Japan, less crowded and cleaner air.”
I just got hired by a hagwon, and I’m leaving for Korea in 30 days, but I’m getting cold feet because of all the horror stories I’m reading online. Please re-assure me I’m making the right decision! There are foreign teachers currently teaching at the school even though its outside of Seoul so at least I’ll have colleagues to speak with.
Read 10 Answers
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Sure you might hear some awful stories from teachers and hagwons, but the majority of people who go to Korea to teach have an amazing, life changing experience. I taught in Korea for 5 years and loved it.I did have some tough times, but I rose above my problems and they weren’t necessarily because of Korea. Job problems can occur in any country.”
“Good to hear you’ll have some foreign colleagues at your school. It makes a big difference to have people at your hagwon from the same culture and who speak the same language to have around you.
“I live and teach in Seoul and have had a pretty good time here. I have my own apartment, a 10 minute walk from the school and a scooter. Life is great. I’m heading to Thailand in a month for some fun and sun!”
“The negative stories will always drown out the positive ones. People don’t typically go online and rave about their hagwons (unless their trying to recruit a teacher). You have to consider the teacher, the school and the specific situation that caused the “horror story” to transpire. Just remember, you’re only getting one side of the story when you hear about it from the teacher. Trust me, some teachers here can be pretty demanding and inflexible. They would have problems with any employer wherever they worked.”
“Talk to the teachers there, make sure you are getting decent housing, 10 days minimum vacation weekends off, severance, flight (one way or return) and national holidays off. And of course pension and medical. The actual conditions of your hagwon don’t have to be a big surprise when you arrive. You can connect with anyone these days, watch videos, read reviews and look at school websites.”
“If your future boss won’t let you connect with current teachers, beware. That’s NOT a good sign. I’d move on to a different school, personally.”
“No matter how much research a teacher does, they can still end up in a bad situation. Hagwon owner changes, school bankruptcy, abusive boss or colleagues, school moves you to an apartment over an hour from your school or forces you to teach outside classes. Anything can happen. Just be aware of it and be prepared to deal with it.”
“What if I don’t have any teaching experience? Will that make things stressful?”
“If you have a degree and are fluent in English you shouldn’t have any problems. Schools have books, videos, games and smart boards. Hey, you’re a college grad, so you should be able to think of something if your students are getting bored or unmotivated. Most of the teachers who come over here have no idea how to teach English in a foreign country. If you have the time and cash get TEFL certified. That will give you ideas and strategies for your classes and students.”
“Find a Facebook group of teachers where you’ll be teaching. It’s a good support group if things go south on you.”
Is it feasible to quit a hagwon job at any time? I realize I’d possibly lose my flight and contract bonus, but I’d like to switch jobs. I’d give my school at least two weeks notice and hopefully, they’d understand?
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“Nobody is stopping you from quitting except yourself. Give them notice and leave. Just remember that your employer does not have to give you a letter of release so you can teach at another hagwon. Before you quit, make sure your employer is willing to give you an LOR. Not like they couldn’t change their mind after you resign (I’ve seen it happen), but at least you’ll get their immediate reaction and whether it’s worth it for you to jump ship.”
“If you’ve got an E2 visa, I agree 100% on the letter of release thingy. If you have an F-4, F-2, F5 or F-6 visa you’re free to float from school to school.”
“If you resign, go out on good terms. That way you’ll qualify for any of the severance pay you put in during your “x” number of months at the school. Also, you might even get a reference from your hagwon director, provided you were a good teacher while there.”
“I’m not so sure about getting severance pay based on the number of months you taught at a school. Don’t you have to do 12 months before you even qualify?”
“Nope. You get paid a partial severance based on months taught. If your hagwon takes it out of your monthly check, you’ll get it back when you leave.”
“I disagree. You have to work for 12 months to qualify for any severance. If you resign at the same school for a second year, however many months you teach, say 3 more months and then quit 3 months into your 2nd year contract, they’ll pro-rate you for the 12 +3 = 15 months severance. Pretty sure that’s how it works.”
“If you quit and your hagwon won’t give you an LOR, then go to the Ministry of Employment and Labor. You’d be filing for an Unfair Dismissal Claim. Once you go to immigration and explain that your school won’t cough up an LOR for you, they’ll contact the school and you’ll eventually get it. I stress eventually…. You can’t start teaching at your new school until you get the LOR. Between immigration and the school, this time period could get really stretched. How long can you afford to be not working. One month, two months, three?”
“You can do the above – go to immigration if your employer reneges on the LOR, but don’t make a habit of job hopping in Korea. You are a foreign worker, and they want to keep track of where you work and where you live, so don’t expect the same liberties as an F-visa holder or Korean resident.”
“Found a good article about unfair dismissal here. http://www.korea4expats.com/article-unfair%20dismissal-letter-of-release.html“
I’m interviewing at an International Christian school in Korea. Would this be better on my resume than a private language school and is it international school teaching experience?
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“While international schools are not connected to the Korean public school system, they would obviously look much better on your CV than Chungdahm Hagwon, or any of the other thousands of hagwons in Korea.I assume you are a Christian and won’t object to teaching some of the evangelical, right worldview.If, you aren’t you might find the ideological a bit hard to swallow. I know I would.Their stance on homosexuality, abortion, etc.”
“I disagree. I taught at a few International Christian schools in Asia and the majority of the textbooks used were from well-known textbook publishers like MacMillan, Pearson, etc. Also, for Bible classes we used reputable Christian publishers. Just expect that the over arching theme of the school “faith-based”.”
“I heard they use the Bob Jones University Life Way teaching materials in classes.”
“I taught at a Christian kindergarten. They have chapel every day and encourage you to attend, but you aren’t required. I did have to teach some bible stories in English from time to time.No big deal. I took a religion course in university. When you do the interview make note of the questions they ask you about your beliefs. If they ask you questions about smoking, drinking alcohol, curfews, etc, these rules might be included in your actual teaching contract. If you’re breaking these rules, which are in disharmony with the Christian lifestyle, you could be terminated.”
“There are many Christian schools in Korea. The range from extremely right to moderate in their views, just like churches in America.”
“I interviewed at the Christian International School. You are required to go to their church and they’ll monitor your attendance. If you aren’t a Christian, or born again one, you won’t get hired. If you aren’t don’t bother with the interview. Clearly a better job than a hagwon, but be prepared to go to church every Sunday rain or shine.”
“Do some research on the Bob Jones University in Wikipedia and judge for yourself. Here’s a link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Jones_University“