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  • Sagi Keun
  • Super Waygook

    • 385

    • May 10, 2018, 11:47:23 am
    • Los Angeles

My boss fired an American teacher after 3 written warnings, but labour law says she has to give 1 months notice or 1 months pay. Which is correct?

I told the guy he should have reported it to the labour board, because basically she trumped up the letters on cue once she'd decided to fire him.

She timed the final letter for when she knew she had found a replacement and in time for the newbie to take over.


The letters were contrived, basically she scanned the cctv closely until she found some minor infringement (glancing at his cellphone? 2 minutes late to class? etc). Then dropped her poison pen letter. So from the first warning to the final one was about 5 weeks. But he never received notice and was dismissed on the spot with letter 3.

The "3 letter rule" is in his contract but hakwons can't simply make up their own rules surely? Its just a way for them to circumvent their obligations.



  • Mr C
  • The Legend

    • 3797

    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2021, 11:14:36 pm »
This is you, isn't it?


Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2021, 05:06:04 am »
How long has he worked there? Yes I believe you are correct that they need to pay a months wages, but I could be wrong. He should definitely file a complaint with the labor board.


Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2021, 08:04:41 am »
Yeah, pretty sure that the boss has to prove that the letters are legit and that such actions caused her to lose business. I think she's counting on him not knowing his rights.

He should definitely contact the labor board and go from there.


  • hangook77
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5651

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2021, 01:28:17 pm »
No.  That is western law.  Well, North America anyways.  Koreans are either permanent workers that are hard to fire.  So companies don't want to hire too many new people.  They hire them on one year contracts.  Then it is easy to non renew them.  It is actually hard to fire even a contract worker until the contract ends.  If the manager has a video or the teacher looking at the phone he can say it was still break time and that the manager changed the video settings.  Also thr manager never warned her.  She nevet got written warnings the manager forged the signatures.  Go to the labor board and deny deny deny.  Stand firm in the denial.  Recite examples of how this manager has tried to undermine her.  Perhaps suggest she may even be racist against her.  Go all out.  Even if she is canned, she would still have to get a month or two notice which she can claim was never given.  This will create difficulty for the manager because she has already paid the flight possibly for the new teacher.  But good.  It will serve her right.  Let it cost her some money.  Korean law supercedes any contract poorly written or otherwise.  Hard to fire.  Worse case scenario they dont renew you.  But who cares?  Once covid is done by next year go to China and make a lot more money anyhow.  To heck with them. 
745sticky, Augustiner, Bakeacake, D.L.Orean, Lazio, Mithras, Renma, Rye are still blocked and I can't see them.


  • Sagi Keun
  • Super Waygook

    • 385

    • May 10, 2018, 11:47:23 am
    • Los Angeles
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2021, 06:24:20 am »
Yeah, pretty sure that the boss has to prove that the letters are legit and that such actions caused her to lose business.

Seems like another vague law that is unreliable and down to someones perception, like everything in Korea.

So a hogwon boss doesn't actually have to give a months notice, they can just throw a couple of letters at them and boot them out the door within days or weeks?


Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2021, 08:20:26 am »
Seems like another vague law that is unreliable and down to someones perception, like everything in Korea.

So a hogwon boss doesn't actually have to give a months notice, they can just throw a couple of letters at them and boot them out the door within days or weeks?

No. People can't be fired on a whim like this in Korea, it's actually quite difficult to legally fire someone, the laws ar very much on your friend's side. His employer can't just write up some written warnings out of nowhere and call it just cause. A lot more has to go into it. That's why you hear so many cases of employers suddenly treating an employee like shit -- because it's easier to get them to quit on their own than it is to legally fire them. Your friend's boss is gambling that he doesn't know his rights. He just needs to pursue it.

I'm being vague myself here because I'm no longer sure of the details, but if you want something more concrete then you should contact the Seoul Global Center (they're not open on the weekends, though).

http://global.seoul.go.kr/

You can also post in one of the legal advice FB groups like SJ's Legal Cafe or PALS: Practical Advice for Life Situations. There's also LOFT, but be careful with that one, the mods/admin are incredibly heavy handed and the group itself is also incredibly toxic. You'll get a lot of inaccurate info in there that toxic members will swear up and down is legit, and you'll get booted if you try to question them or ask them to clarify something that isn't very clear, lol. What LOFT does have of value, though, is a whole section of resources for you to refer to.

PALS is also no longer as active since the guy who used to run the group kind of stepped away from it for personal reasons. There are knowledgeable people who're still around to answer questions, but it may be a few days before you'll get an answer.

In any case, your friend should call MOEL to file a complaint.

https://www.waygook.org/index.php?topic=42362.0

Pretty sure he has a legit case of an illegal firing and that the employer owes him compensation (at the very least one month's salary, but, if he's an E visa, he'll also need a Letter of Release in order to find another job here).
« Last Edit: August 21, 2021, 08:27:38 am by Chinguetti »


Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2021, 08:57:32 am »
Seems like another vague law that is unreliable and down to someones perception, like everything in Korea.
Not to diverge too much, but that's the law in every place.

That's how laws happen are in many cases- hence why there are lawyers and legal loopholes and there is vast prosecutorial discretion with which to charge you.


  • Sagi Keun
  • Super Waygook

    • 385

    • May 10, 2018, 11:47:23 am
    • Los Angeles
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2021, 05:33:52 pm »
In any case, your friend should call MOEL to file a complaint.

I urged him to fight it but he couldn't be bothered and has flown home.

For some reason though hogwon managers seem to strongly believe that warning letters are all that's needed to legally fire someone.

In fact they use them as a way to fire people more than as a way to get the worker to improve.



Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2021, 05:57:53 pm »
I urged him to fight it but he couldn't be bothered and has flown home.

For some reason though hogwon managers seem to strongly believe that warning letters are all that's needed to legally fire someone.

In fact they use them as a way to fire people more than as a way to get the worker to improve.

It's really more because so many foreigners don't fight it. They just do what your friend did and leave.

Shady hagwon owners and managers bank on foreigners doing this more often than not, hence why it's still something you hear about happening from time to time. But they do eventually get burned for it the more often they do it because it's only a matter of time before they run up against someone who isn't going to let it slide. Then they end up with a black mark on their record. Some hagwons learn and try to find other ways around the laws (and usually fall back on creating a hostile work environment for the employee they want to get rid of so that the employee will quit on their own), some never learn and collect these marks like candy until they're eventually forced out of business.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2021, 06:20:28 pm by Chinguetti »


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 4029

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • South Gyeongsang province for 13 years (with a 7-year Jeju interlude)
    more
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2021, 11:03:30 pm »
I was given a written warning once back in my home country at a p/t job during uni. The very next day I got a new job.

Don't put up with ****.

People say "Life is too short". My dad said "Have a good day" (emphasis on good, stacking good days on good days, not stressing about the long term). "Sleep well" was the goodbye message of the Incas.
Life's to live! Live! Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Animals teach us to focus on family, friends and avoid danger. Get what you need and get along with others. That said, some rock the boat, but they know capsizin' it means they're sunk. Some sink, let's swim! The sea's big, great, but has undercurrents.


  • hangook77
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5651

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2021, 08:01:37 am »
I urged him to fight it but he couldn't be bothered and has flown home.

For some reason though hogwon managers seem to strongly believe that warning letters are all that's needed to legally fire someone.

In fact they use them as a way to fire people more than as a way to get the worker to improve.



That's because they are counting on his ignorance of the law.  The west can work like this.  Bad companies and good companies.  Some can abuse this in fact while others are more than reasonable with it.  It's easier to fire.  But it's also easier to hire and get a job than it is in Korea.  I think France and some other countries have this type of employment too.  It's great for the old folks who already have a job.  It sucks for the young people that come after them and can't get a job or a permanent one because companies don't want to hire and never be able to get rid of them.  Youth unemployment tends to be high in these type of systems long term.

At any rate, Korean law supercedes any bad contract you have in this regard.  Your friend could have gone to the labor board and said they were fake warnings and that he never signed them nor agreed to them.  Any video of him peeking at the phone was during the break, etc. 
745sticky, Augustiner, Bakeacake, D.L.Orean, Lazio, Mithras, Renma, Rye are still blocked and I can't see them.


Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2021, 11:49:56 am »
Seems like another vague law that is unreliable and down to someones perception, like everything in Korea.

Basically you can't fire people in Korea because of the Confucian 5-relations (specifically ruler-to-subject obligations). Hierarchy works both ways: the subject having obligations of filial piety (yes a company is a family in Korea), and the ruler also having obligations to the subject.

On the wider topic of East Asian law, it is relatively more about context. Logically, only humans, with their subjectivity, can be humane. Rigid attempts at universally applicable laws like in the West are seen as inhumane or even tyrannous. Although there is legalism, so it gets complicated.

But regardless, it's definitely not the West; foreigners should educate themselves by reading the classics to know the thinking here, or be eternally perplexed...


  • hangook77
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5651

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2021, 12:20:09 pm »
Basically you can't fire people in Korea because of the Confucian 5-relations (specifically ruler-to-subject obligations). Hierarchy works both ways: the subject having obligations of filial piety (yes a company is a family in Korea), and the ruler also having obligations to the subject.

On the wider topic of East Asian law, it is relatively more about context. Logically, only humans, with their subjectivity, can be humane. Rigid attempts at universally applicable laws like in the West are seen as inhumane or even tyrannous. Although there is legalism, so it gets complicated.

But regardless, it's definitely not the West; foreigners should educate themselves by reading the classics to know the thinking here, or be eternally perplexed...

France has a similar system where once hired it is hard to fire or dismiss.  So, many younger workers are also hired on temporary contracts.  Italy and some other countries may have similar.  They are all plagued by high unemployment rates and high youth unemployment in general.  Korea seems to have a similar model, but then coupled with extremely difficult exams to get the few permanent jobs.  They really are big on having different classes of people.  Even some young Koreans defended it when I criticized it long ago.  (Maybe because they want that job and status too someday?)
745sticky, Augustiner, Bakeacake, D.L.Orean, Lazio, Mithras, Renma, Rye are still blocked and I can't see them.


  • hangook77
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5651

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2021, 02:07:07 pm »
Anyways off topic.  Korean law matters more than some poorly written contract. 
745sticky, Augustiner, Bakeacake, D.L.Orean, Lazio, Mithras, Renma, Rye are still blocked and I can't see them.


Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2021, 07:39:44 am »
They really are big on having different classes of people.

Of course: in the present itís Chaebols, further back to Joseon, and back further still to Gwanggaeto. Hierarchy is the natural order of things (primates). Korean philosophy just accepts this, and works with it.


  • hangook77
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5651

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Legal to fire after 3 written warnings, or is 1 month notice required?
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2021, 12:55:14 pm »
Of course: in the present itís Chaebols, further back to Joseon, and back further still to Gwanggaeto. Hierarchy is the natural order of things (primates). Korean philosophy just accepts this, and works with it.

I mean even in the schools.  Permanent employee, contract employee, this set of staff and another set of staff.  Etc.  Western workplaces sometimes have temps but are usually hired after a while.  Not this type of gap nor ridiculous exams for them.  Just some panel interviews, you're hired or you're not. 
745sticky, Augustiner, Bakeacake, D.L.Orean, Lazio, Mithras, Renma, Rye are still blocked and I can't see them.