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  • fruitloops
  • Adventurer

    • 34

    • July 22, 2019, 12:00:41 pm
    • Gyeonggi-do
Time off without pay
« on: July 22, 2019, 02:05:42 pm »
Have any of you thought it would be nice to have a little more time off from school beyond the 20 or 26 days paid-holidays we are given in the EPIK contracts?

20 days or so just doesn't seem like enough time off to recharge or refresh to get ready for another year of work.  I wouldn't mind taking another 20 days off on top of that but WITHOUT PAY.  I don't need to get paid.  I would just like to have more time off when the school is in holidays and regular classes are out of session (rather than to just deskwarm for a couple weeks and get paid for it).  I'd rather not get paid and be able to have an extra month off of school.

I guess it's not possible to request or ask either my school or EPIK.  I'm sure they'll just say, the contract is the contract, and you are only entitled to the 20-26 paid vacation days, and nothing extra even if you are willing to take it out of your own pocket.

The reason I ask this is because EPIK has made very difficult now for teachers if they don't stay with the same school (in other words, if you don't renew).  I want to keep working and stay at my school but I feel like I could use a longer time off to just recuperate, take some time for myself and recharge the batteries and come back strong and fresh ready and itching to go!   Instead, I feel drained and fatigued even after using our paid vacation days, it's just not long enough and everyone suffers for it (I'm not as energetic and fresh, therefore school/students won't be getting the best they can get out of their teacher(s)).    It's just a thought.  I really wouldn't mind taking a little less pay so that I could at least have 2 months off instead of just 1.   The only other option is to not renew with the school, and tell them I'm going to take an entire year off (which is too long of course, but it's the only way to get a little more extended time off), and then trying to get a public school job back is a PITA again because you have to go through all the applications, interviews, forms, and most likely re-locate and re-settle into a new city/home, etc.



  • hangook77
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1232

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2019, 08:19:23 am »
Yeah, you use to be able to take time off without pay.  EPIK has turned into arseholes lately.  They've even been calling the schools insisting we stay till 4 30 all day when they use to let us go early during the vacation.  I mean they better give us a raise next year to put up with all this crap.  Plus those 26 days aren't even 26 days as they are deducting your school holidays.  Complete bunch of pricks.  They didn't even honor my 5 days for renewing the contract which should be illegal, but could I really fight it at the labor board though?  At least my schools, knock on wood, so far haven't clued into that new vacation rule and I should still be able to do my 26 days.  (Next year could be a different story.) 

If they give us a raise to put up with this new shit, then fine.  But if not, save another year or so and then get the hell out.  Do Vietnam or some other country.  Maybe even Middle East.  If I want strictness, then at least I should get paid for it.  They aren't paying enough anymore for this new round of prickness.  F them.  Lots of countries are hiring now. 


  • fruitloops
  • Adventurer

    • 34

    • July 22, 2019, 12:00:41 pm
    • Gyeonggi-do
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2019, 09:19:49 am »
There's no doubt that the standard of living in Korea has gone way up since 10, 15, 20 years ago, but the pay hasn't changed all that much.  While I still do feel the job is very good if you consider making 30k per year on almost no education, experience, training except for a 100-120 hour online certificate and a high school diploma or general arts bachelor's degree, this is not really enough money in today's world.    I think for the young 19 year - 24 yr olds who have no job back home and want to travel/experience new places, getting free housing / accomodation with 30k salary dropped in your lap is wonderful.  But for those who are getting older, have families to care for, more bills to pay and retirement to save for etc., this is not meeting up to standards.  You have to find some additional streams of income with this if you want to really achieve and get anywhere in life on this salary (which I am doing).

The reason I ask this question is because most of us work in summer camps and don't have a summer vacation unless you plan to use your vacation time now and not winter.  I chose to use it in winter so that means I have no summer vacation.   So this past week, my school is celebrating the end of the semester, everyone is in a good mood, the korean teachers look pretty happy and wishing me a nice summer etc., but that's because they are about to embark on 1 month holiday while I am returning to school every week for the entire summer.

When the second semester starts and all the students return, they are all well rested, had their fun, and eager to get back to school.  The korean teachers look refreshed, tanned, happy and ready to go, but we english teachers had just spent the entire summer working camps or deskwarming alone and I'm supposed to be refreshed and energized to start the 2nd semester?  That just doesn't seem right.   

Even if I used 2 weeks in summer and 2 weeks in winter for my holidays, that's not enough time to be recharged and refreshed.  I don't know exactly how long the Korean teachers holidays are but it seems like they get 2 months off per year.   1 month in summer and 1 month in winter which to me sounds about right and reasonable....that's what I  would like too, but I don't mind not being paid for 1 month off while the other month off is my paid vacation time.  I think 2 months is perfect to have a clean break without actually leaving the job/school and be able to come back fresh and re-energized for a new school year.



  • OnNut81
  • Expert Waygook

    • 847

    • April 01, 2011, 03:01:41 pm
    • Anyang
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 10:15:36 am »
fruitloops : Have any of you thought it would be nice to have a little more time off from school beyond the 20 or 26 days paid-holidays we are given in the EPIK contracts?

I'll assume that is a rhetorical question.  I don't think anyone has gotten to the bottom of why we deskwarm.  It benefits no one, but because of the other conditions of the job people put up with it.  If you're satisfied overall with your pay and school, it's an annoying but certainly survivable task.  Go complain about deskwarming to a hakwan acquaintance.  They won't be amused.  But I agree, if people wanted to forgo pay and get more time off you'd think this would be an attractive system to school boards, as enough people would opt in that they would certainly be able to save or allocate those funds elsewhere. 



Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2019, 11:16:05 am »
My outlandish assumption is that because we are contract and not salary they just don't want to deal with the paperwork and re-balancing of yearly budgets. Schools are given a certain amount for EPIK teachers and they don't want to lose budget (spent it all!).



  • hangook77
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1232

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2019, 12:07:28 pm »
Deskwarming is a pain.  Education office being retarded about it this year.  Always got to leave at noon before.  Arseholes.  Completely pointless.  But I did tell them if they're going to make me stay for the afternoons now, they better give me a room with air con.  I really insisted on that.  Also, got to go eat since schools aren't serving lunch.  Put my foot down on that too.  I'd just take an extra 2 or 3 days unpaid to unwind from that bs.  Well, the hakwons have shortages and EPIK will be next.  Pay has stagnated and not risen.  So, it isn't a good time to start being retards and enforcing all the new anal rules on us.  Another year or two, even the level 1 and 1plus pays will be low with any more inflation.  I think level 2 and 3 and especially in bigger cities, especially Seoul already sucks nowadays.  Lots of countries are hiring waygooks and either paying better or paying the same with a cheaper living cost.  Korea had better smarten up.  (I have seen a lot of jobs offering 2000 US dollars a month in South east Asia - less pay if you want more free time.  They also have a much much lower cost of living meaning more savings and debt repayment.  Even China with it's pain in the @$$ money transfer system gives those options too.) 


  • fruitloops
  • Adventurer

    • 34

    • July 22, 2019, 12:00:41 pm
    • Gyeonggi-do
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2019, 03:42:27 pm »
My outlandish assumption is that because we are contract and not salary they just don't want to deal with the paperwork and re-balancing of yearly budgets. Schools are given a certain amount for EPIK teachers and they don't want to lose budget (spent it all!).

Agreed, that is most likely why.  A nuisance if they had to modify the contracts in the middle of the year.  But then how about this? I'll just pay them?  So whatever they paid out to me for the month, I'll just return it to them to their bank account?  No paperwork needed :)

If they could allow that, I'd certainly pay them 1 month salary back if I could just take an extra month off.  I would see it as an investment because taking 1 month off on my own expense is money saved and earned because it allow me to re-sign for another whole year.  Without the extra month off, I don't think I can re-sign because I'm too damn tired and exhausted and I need a break but I want to keep the job and come back (but this way, it's a PITA for us because of the re-application process and being sent randomly to another location).

It's the whole idea of, easy money is not the point in life.  What's more important in life is to find fulfillment, purpose, happiness, and being productive, having a goal that is in-line with your passions/interests.   I could definitely stick with an easy job like being an english teacher in korea, 50% deskwarm, 50% actual classes, literally have no pressure on the job because just simply being able to speak native english makes us seem like we are gods to them (I always found it amusing because even unqualified native english speakers would be seen as professors in Korea).    But for me, I don't want to just have free time and deskwarm.  I'd rather have that time converted into non-school free time so that I can do other things with my life. 

But yes, we can easily compare how comfortable and easy this job is to one of the DDD jobs and feel much better about ourselves and realize, yeah, I better not complain and just sit here and be a good boy and get paid easy money, even if I'm not feeling that fulfilled or happy.

It's the whole hen and the egg principle.  I believe in it.  If you want a healthy business, you need your employees to be healthy.  If you want your customers to be happy, then better make sure your employees are happy because they go  hand-in-hand.  If you want quality eggs, treat your hens well so they can produce for you.  But if you neglect your hens and expect them to keep producing quality eggs, that won't last long and you'll be off looking for a new hen (and repeat the process).   


  • L I
  • The Legend

    • 3515

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2019, 07:21:30 pm »
I don't think anyone has gotten to the bottom of why we deskwarm.

The foreign teacher is supposed to be using this time to prepare English teaching materials for the school for the upcoming semester and beyond. That should be obvious. And I've been told this as well.



  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 2330

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2019, 07:42:07 pm »
ah, yes. "prepare for the upcoming semester. by the way, we haven't received the new books yet, also we don't know which grades you'll be teaching. but you must prepare well for the next semester"


  • L I
  • The Legend

    • 3515

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2019, 08:26:55 pm »
If you're in a public school, the grades you'll teach will be the same as before. As will be the half finished books. A teacher can always do more to improve. If they want to that is. The problem is the vacation for foreign teachers is so short many feel exhausted and unmotivated to work hard while the Korean teachers are off. But the expectation is they'll be doing work during their working hours.


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 1439

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
    more
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2019, 11:37:54 pm »
1. I re-signed for a 2nd year in 2003 at my hagwon in early December on condition that I have an immediate one-month unpaid break to visit my home country.

2. I re-signed in December 2005 at the same hagwon on condition that I have an immediate one-month break to go to New Zealand to get my CELTA.

3. I worked at another hagwon 2006-2009 and negotiated an unpaid 3-month summer break to return to my home country and settle the affairs of my deceased father. I did so by saying i'd find my temporary replacement and did so (though the guy turned out to be a **** who used all my locked-up stuff, but that's another story).

3. I took no days off my first couple of years on Jeju Island so it was easy to ask firmly suddenly for a 2-week half-month unpaid break exactly when i wanted it one summer.

Know your circumstances, know your leverage, pick and choose your battles all along, and you will succeed!

In negotiations, be willing to walk away or to drop demands. I have always appeared ready to do the former so never had to do the latter.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2019, 11:42:43 pm by VanIslander »


  • fruitloops
  • Adventurer

    • 34

    • July 22, 2019, 12:00:41 pm
    • Gyeonggi-do
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2019, 08:03:23 am »
ah, yes. "prepare for the upcoming semester. by the way, we haven't received the new books yet, also we don't know which grades you'll be teaching. but you must prepare well for the next semester"

Agreed.  I definitely understand that deskwarming is free time for us to prepare (anything) for upcoming classes, semesters, etc., and I do that very well, but even still, it doesn't take very long to come up with games and lessons when 90% of it is already done for you via the curriculum/books.   This reminds me of how they often ask you to give them the summer camp or winter camp lesson outline plan
before you have even received your schedule/timetable (so you don't even know which grades you are teaching and the size of the classes).  A lot of times, classes are even cancelled or changed and I had the entire semester or camp all outlined and prepared to go and they just change things last minute on you so your plans are scrapped.   This has happened often to me so I become less motivated to actually make a plan.  I'll just more or less make a general outline and just make it look good, but never actually follow it when it comes time.  I just do completely new lessons and activities.


  • OnNut81
  • Expert Waygook

    • 847

    • April 01, 2011, 03:01:41 pm
    • Anyang
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2019, 08:07:58 am »
1. I re-signed for a 2nd year in 2003 at my hagwon in early December on condition that I have an immediate one-month unpaid break to visit my home country.

2. I re-signed in December 2005 at the same hagwon on condition that I have an immediate one-month break to go to New Zealand to get my CELTA.

3. I worked at another hagwon 2006-2009 and negotiated an unpaid 3-month summer break to return to my home country and settle the affairs of my deceased father. I did so by saying i'd find my temporary replacement and did so (though the guy turned out to be a **** who used all my locked-up stuff, but that's another story).

3. I took no days off my first couple of years on Jeju Island so it was easy to ask firmly suddenly for a 2-week half-month unpaid break exactly when i wanted it one summer.

Know your circumstances, know your leverage, pick and choose your battles all along, and you will succeed!

In negotiations, be willing to walk away or to drop demands. I have always appeared ready to do the former so never had to do the latter.


Hakwans and public schools are a different kettle of fish.  What may work in a hakwan where it's a business and you have developed a good relationship with the owner doesn't apply to the bureaucratic operation that is public school.

To the poster saying it should be obvious that you should be preparing for the next semester that would only potentially apply to the teachers that are teaching new books or lessons.  I have two new books but I'm already set until at least October, and the my other two grades I already have done and have collected so many activities and supplementary material that I never get to it all as it is.  You may get an idea of something new but most of the deskwarming is finger twiddling time.  We get more than enough hours during the semester to be on top of our lessons. 


  • fruitloops
  • Adventurer

    • 34

    • July 22, 2019, 12:00:41 pm
    • Gyeonggi-do
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2019, 08:19:30 am »
If you're in a public school, the grades you'll teach will be the same as before. As will be the half finished books. A teacher can always do more to improve. If they want to that is. The problem is the vacation for foreign teachers is so short many feel exhausted and unmotivated to work hard while the Korean teachers are off. But the expectation is they'll be doing work during their working hours.

Agreed.  Going through 5 months in the 1st semester and then everyone including most students get the summer off, but we are here
for the whole summer, by the time the 2nd semester starts, everyone else is re-energized and feeling good coming off a nice break.  They will often smile at me and be nice and ask me how my summer was  and I'll be like, "I was at school everyday".   This to me is just unusual.  I don't see how they can expect teachers to be emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy over the long term if you keep doing this.  That's why so many english teachers "burn" out.   You never hear about Korean teachers burning out.  If I knew I could work 5 months and then get 1 month off, then come back and work 4 months (2nd semester is always shorter than 1st), and then get another 1 month off, that would totally work for me and keep me very happy and motivated.  But basically no matter how you spread out your vacation time, at some stretch during the year, you'll be working almost 9 or 10 months straight.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 2330

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2019, 08:26:42 am »
If you're in a public school, the grades you'll teach will be the same as before. As will be the half finished books. A teacher can always do more to improve. If they want to that is. The problem is the vacation for foreign teachers is so short many feel exhausted and unmotivated to work hard while the Korean teachers are off. But the expectation is they'll be doing work during their working hours.
Public school teachers have 4 hours every day to plan anyway. What could you possibly be working on during the vacation?


  • L I
  • The Legend

    • 3515

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2019, 08:33:19 am »
Unless all your students are are extremely enthusiastic about learning English (which they aren't) and/or are nearly fluent in the language (which they aren't), you could always be working to improve your lessons. Polish to make them better. They are not perfect yet because nothing is perfect. Everything can be brought up to a higher level.



  • L I
  • The Legend

    • 3515

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2019, 08:39:47 am »
If you're making good lessons, it takes a long time to prepare them.


  • L I
  • The Legend

    • 3515

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
    • Seoul


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 2330

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2019, 09:14:11 am »
If you're making good lessons, it takes a long time to prepare them.
it's totally possible to create good lessons without spending hours on them. and just because you spend hours on them, it doesn't necessarily make them any more effective. i'd argue if you're spending hours making one 40-minute lesson, it's rather inefficient


  • L I
  • The Legend

    • 3515

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Time off without pay
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2019, 09:25:17 am »
There are things you could be doing to improve the students' experience. Lessons can be improved. (You just gotta think creatively.) And you could decorate the classroom with some English. Or make an educational computer game using vocabulary words studied.

To think, "Well, I've done the most perfect and thorough preparation which cannot be expanded upon or improved upon" is rather arrogant. And evidence of the Dunning Kruger effect.