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Urgent advice needed.
« on: July 16, 2012, 10:41:50 am »
I have been teaching at a Hagwon in South Korea for over 3 months and I need some urgent advice.

Below is the chain of events that occurred at work very recently:

*I was asked to go to the principal's office with the interpreter.  They told me that due to a reduction in student numbers they could no longer employ someone at my pay rate and that they needed to hire a Korean teacher who they could pay less.  The Korean teacher would not be a native English speaker.
* They told me my employment would finish in 6 weeks but they would help me to find another job.
* After quite a deal of questioning I offered to work for the same pay rate as the Korean teacher.
* They declined this offer.
* Five minutes after I left the office they came back to me and said that I could stay for the remainder of my contract and work at the reduced rate if I wished.  They would begin paying me at my contracted rate if student numbers increased. 
*I told them I would consider this offer.

I enjoy teaching 95% of the students there and I would like to stay.

I am also confident in my ability to help the students and the school.  However, I can't help but thinking that I am the victim of a scam just designed to pay me less than what was agreed in my contact.

 They have had a Korean teacher at the school for about 3 weeks.  I am told she is the replacement teacher for another staff member but she just appears to be doing an incredibly long induction.

My issue is that if the school is in a bad financial state, how can they afford to pay this extra teacher, who as best I can tell isn't teaching any classes and doesn't really appear to be doing anything?

Any good advice would be appreciated.
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  Steve Jobs

  • millionsknives
  • Veteran

    • 90

    • January 18, 2012, 10:42:37 am
    • 전남-도,장성
Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2012, 11:22:54 am »

I know how nice it is to feel a connection with your students but education is an industry.  Hagwons run into financial troubles all the time so it is not unusual to find one that can no longer pay the agreed upon salary.  It's doubtful they were trying to scam you from the get go but if you're going to offer to work for less money of course they are going to consider it.  Basically you are helping their position by keeping a foreigner working in the school.  There are plenty of good and reliable hagwons that you could be working at, especially if you have your school ready to provide reference.  For your current school it looks like they are being really good about saving face.  There are many schools that would just cut you loose and that would be it.    If you are looking for real advice, I'd suggest going back in and telling your bosses you've looked at your financial situation and don't think it will be possible for you to live in Korea at the new pay rate.  Then try to get them to help you find a new school to work at.  These jobs aren't so hard to find so there is no reason any foreign teacher should be willingly depressing their wage rate for any employer. 
I drank what!?

Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2012, 11:37:17 am »
I had situations happen to me 3 times before I finally just found a public school. I definitely know people that do quite well at hagwons... but you need to evaluate your situation. My first school decided that since I complained that I was not brought back from tutoring the owners 2 kids (4 and 7) for 6 hours and then teach for 1 hour the students I was supposed to teach, that they were going to find a new slave.
The second time I was in the exact same situation as you, and I decided to move on to an adult hagwon. The school got what was coming to them since my last day 2 other native English teachers walked out because of bad work conditions. The adult hagwon I honestly just had the worst possible first class ever, and one of the students went straight to the CHAIN owner demanding I be fired. (It's a huge chain.. and I was at their headquarters...:( I finally found an awesome recruiter who found me a job exactly what I asked for.

I say it's not worth fighting with them. Evaluate exactly what you want from teaching here (hopefully you have got somewhat of a feel of what it's like teaching and what age students you want to teach). Refuse to compromise and believe me the recruiter will find that job. They want the commission. If they are asses, there are soo many others. PM me if you want advice finding one. (I suggest a recruiter, I went through 2, one to come over and one with the school I am at now. I also found 2 jobs on my own... and my suggestion is go through a recruiter to get the best deal since they can talk about contracts better in Korean).

  • bawaugh
  • Super Waygook

    • 497

    • March 04, 2012, 08:49:30 pm
    • Geoje
Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2012, 12:42:37 pm »
I just hope you are not from the USA and have to go through the 3 month process of getting a new criminal record.

P is pressure
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  • AC_in_Korea
  • Super Waygook

    • 263

    • July 30, 2010, 11:25:33 am
    • Miryang, South Korea
Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 01:05:07 pm »
Marshmellow Man,

As someone mentioned, your hagwan seems to fairly legit in that they are telling you this upfront, and saying you have 6 weeks, and they are willing to help you find another place of employment.  A friend of mine was told there is not enough to pay her, and she had to leave in a week.  We worked hard to get her the severance owed to her, because it was the school breaking the contract.  Finally we were able to get a pro-rated payment.

I understand that you love the students, and teaching, and please trust me when I tell you that you will love the students at another facility as well. 

If you make the choice to stay with the lower salary, I worry that you may start to regret it.  There are many frustrations that we encounter day to day in our jobs (in any jobs), and sometimes knowing that we are compensated well helps - but if you are not getting what you know you deserve - and can get elsewhere- you may really regret staying there.

They say they will pay you your regular salary if they get more business, but what measures 'more business'?  There are many variables that I would want clarified if I was making this decision.

They should be paying you your regular salary for the next 6 weeks anyway, so why not have them offer some alternative places of employment, and take a look yourself at what is available.  They hire and dismiss Korean teachers very easily - so I don't think they need time to hire anyone else.

Good luck!  It's a difficult situation - but don't forget your worth.
Be the change you want to see in the world.

  • madison79
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1375

    • October 19, 2010, 01:26:04 pm
    • Interweb
Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2012, 06:52:30 pm »
If they are pulling this on you now then it's a sinking ship.  Cut and run.  Find a new job or head back to home for now.  Don't reduce your pay since you don't know the books and they could be screwing you over. 
Since they are breaking the contract then they should have to pay for your flight and stuff.  Don't be afraid to call the labor board about it. 
It's -ev to deal with some people.

Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2012, 07:59:12 pm »
Thank you for the wonderful advice that I received here today.  I appreciate people willing to help so quickly.  I plan to make a decision tomorrow morning.

Some further information became available today.  It appears that paying me my initial contracted salary was going to be dependent on student numbers increasing after I was hired.   This was never communicated to me.  That said, they have always paid me on time in accordance with the contract.

I think Madison79 may be right however.  The ship may be sinking.

Superchick 3.  Thanks for your offer.  You may receive a PM from me, depending on how things go.  The only complicating factor is that I only wish to work in the city/region where I presently am.   

Thanks again.
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  Steve Jobs

Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2012, 06:21:53 am »
I notice "bawaugh" mentioned about the criminal history check above.

If I do leave and apply to get another job in South Korea, does this mean I have to go through the whole process of getting another Apostilled criminal history check and copy of my degree again?  This took me quite a long time last time even though I was in my home country.

It is my preference to stay in Korea or visit Japan temporarily rather than fly back to my home country.
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  Steve Jobs

Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2012, 07:57:03 am »
No you don't have to get new documents unless you want to go to public school. A good recruiter or employer can actually just have all the documents transfered. Believe me... I know... I haven't needed any new documents yet.

Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2012, 08:02:15 am »
I"m going through the exact same thing.

It is really disheartening because I do like the kids that I teach, but my employer is just the most unprofessional, unreliable person I've ever met. So I think that I will have to start looking for other jobs, or either take a break and revamp so that I don't feel jaded by the system.

I think the advice to go to a recruiter is good, but even with recruiters you have to be careful I think. You definitely want to find one that is going to have your interests in mind too, not just collecting a paycheck.  That being said, does anyone have a recommendation for a decent recruiter?

  • sheila
  • Moderator - LVL 2

    • 1480

    • November 23, 2009, 08:32:58 am
    • Gangnamgu, Seoul
Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2012, 08:24:58 am »
You will NOT need to get a new CBC. All that needs to happen is you need to get a letter of release from your hagwon which says the specific date that you're available to start working at another employer. It MUST say 'Letter of Release' on the top or immigration will have a fit. What happens is you bring your new contract and all of the forms to immi. and request a change of place of employment. It's very easy. If you end up scoring a public school job and you need a copy of the CBC, call up immigration and request a copy of your apostilled copy. Public schools usually only send a copy to the Dept of Ed. so you shouldn't need to worry too much. I'm sure you can find a new job in your area in a snap. But don't settle for Korean teacher wages... do you know how much they make? At the hagwon that I worked at, their wages were half of mine with no housing. Don't settle, just leave even though you love it.
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard!

Re: Urgent advice needed.
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 02:53:56 pm »
Thanks heaps again.


In relation to the CBC and the Apostilled degree - is this still the case if there is a gap ................say 3-5 weeks between finishing the old job and starting the new one?  I am wanting to break for about a month or so.

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  Steve Jobs