ESL South Korea

Korea Teachers Contract

So you’ve applied to a school, had an interview and have been accepted.  The next step on the long line of the recruitement process is reading your contract and making sure all the things that were promised to you are in there somewhere between the duties and fine script.

I’ve found that many foreigners applying from overseas sign themselves into a raw deal simply because they had no idea what a ‘normal’ contract for a foreign teacher in Korea should look like.  I put normal in quotations because it’s of course a relative term – different schools will give you different contracts.  This is especially true when applying for a position at a hagwon – hagwon owners set up their own contracts and often decide what to include and what to exclude.  If you’re applying at a hagwon you especially need to read you contract through carefully.

EPIK (public school) contracts usually come in a standard format and provide the same benefits no matter where in the country you end up working.

The following applies to both hagwon and EPIK contracts:

Salary.  Hagwon salaries should not be less than 2.2 Million Won, if the initial contract offers a salary of less than 2.2 Million, you’ll no doubt be able to negotiate a better deal – if the owner refuses, find a different school.  EPIK salaries start at 1.8 Million Won (if you hold a bachelors degree) but goes up to 2.6 Million won depending on teaching experience and qualifications.  (1000 Won roughly translates into $1, check for the latest currency rates.)

Free furnished housing.  Furniture should include a bed, closet, table, chair, refrigerator and some basic kitchen utensils.  When working at a hagwon your housing is usually very close to school (I lived right next to mine, made going home during lunch-time a possibility).  When working at a public school you’re told that you might need to commute up to 60minutes to your school, but your school will usually try and find you housing as close to the school as possible.

Free return flights to and from your home country.  When working at a hagwon, your employer should pay for your plane ticket to Korea (You usually buy it, with them paying you back after you arrive in the country).  The employer will then buy the return ticket once your contract is successfully completed.  When working with EPIK you get a entry allowance of 1.3 Million Won after you land, which is roughly the equivalent of a return ticket from North America (depending of what time of the year you fly).

–  A couple of days of holiday.  Hagwon contracts usually give you 10 days paid leave and EPIK approximately double that.  Make sure that the contract states that paid leave excludes weekends and public holidays.

Medical Insurance.  The Korean employer should pay 50% of your monthly medical insurance bill.  Medical insurance in Korea is cheap and covers anything from dental to hospitalization.

Severance Pay.  A completion bonus of one months salary should be paid out after the completion of your 12 month contract.  This means that you’ll get paid 13 months salary for 12 months of work.

Working hours.  EPIK contracts state a set number of 22 teaching hours per week, but with a hagwon this can vary.  Six hours, Monday to Friday is the norm.  Remember this does not mean you only work six hours a day, but that you only teach six hours a day.  The remainder of the time you still need to be at the school.  Be careful of contracts stating you have to work on Saturdays or overtime without overpay.