The Unbinding Contract: It's Hard to Quit
It starts with individuals who are feeling a justifiable cause to fix their circumstances. Unfortunately, upon arrival (in Korea), labor laws are rarely immediate things foreigners tend to teach themselves.
An anonymous teacher, 26-year old, accounted her school deducting large sums of money from her first pay. The school would later compensate the amount to her, in cash. The lack of transparency started to raise suspicion. High volumes of staff were quitting.
"It didn't seem like anyone wanted to work there and at first, I didn't know why."
She continued to explain how staff were being asked to work extra hours without mention of pay. Sometimes, it'd take weeks before the cash payments were handed out. She soon filed her two weeks notice and received her final pay, severely reduced.
"I told them that'd I'd take this to the labor board…it just wasn't right."
After two months of hearings, the Labor board finally decided in her favor, stating,
According to the Korean Labor Laws, the school was in a position to legally penalize the instructor's visa status. The instructor was required to give, at the very least, a 30-day notice – as well as penalizing the instructor with air ticket costs. However, the school representative overreacted and accidentally slipped up on a few things.
"They claimed that I never even gave two week's notice…said that I just walked off."
As cases between instructors and schools continue to develop, vie between the two parties leave many outsiders to think - that the problems are arising rather from unfair working conditions or irresponsible teachers; perhaps both.
The ESL community will always continue to experience hiring, firing, and even quitting. This continuous cycle of employment will always be dynamic, which likely suggests a vibrant English community; alive with opportunity; not dead.
By: Jyu Young Lee
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