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A Shocking 411 on EPIK’s NET vacation days

This is the 114 on the EPIK (Teaching English) program in Korea… (114 is the information dial in Korea).

During last Friday’s EPIK workshop between NET’s and their co-teachers,  EPIKers were informed that their actual vacation time is indeed, not as they thought or were led to believe.  To many, this new came as a shock (read a bit of Kimchi and Eish! blog).  Due to the fact, Korea holds two national holidays (Children’s Day and Parent’s Day) this week,  NET’s (Native English Teachers) were initially given extra school holidays by their school so that they enjoy half to a whole week off for the celebration. As such, some EPIKers made plans and booked tickets to leave the country or to leave town. Now, these people must either surrender their trip or have the days deducted from their 8-day summer vacation.

Eight days of summer vacation?
You heard correct. That was the sound of the second bomb being dropped. English teachers under the EPIK program in Korea are excluded from standard school vacations and holidays. They are allowed 8 days of summer vacation and 10 days of winter vacation in addition to National holidays. What happens when Christmas and summer break roll around and no one is at school?  The EPIK teacher will be sitting in their office, either teaching a winter class, surfing the internet or cleaning.

How can they do this, you ask? They did.  In Article 14 of the EPIK contract, it does state the topic of “Paid Leave” in roundabout terms. It also states that absences, tardies and early leaves can also be interpreted as a possible deduction to one’s vacation days, as each vacation day substitutes an 8-hr workday. On a hopeful note: there is a stipulation that the Employer may grant an extra 5 days to exemplary teaching, etc… but this was not brought to attention to the co-teachers on Friday; thus, it’s unlikely to be observed.

Your recruiting agency and your school vs. EPIK
The confusion that many EPIKers fall under is that not only did their Korean schools initially give them the school holidays to observe as well, but recruiting agencies themselves, sell “Teaching in Korea” as having one of the best packages due in part, to its vacation/holiday perks. My recruiting agency, for example said that while we’re given 18 days of paid vacation, we will also have national and school holidays. Obviously, from every EPIKer’s shock in that room, this matter was not discussed in clear length at orientation or even before signing.

A Choice for Future EPIKers:
For anyone considering signing up with EPIK in the future, these are two BIG things you must take into consideration and weigh:
1) Vacation Hours:
8 Paid Days of Vacation in the Summer; 10 Paid Days of Vacation in the Winter + National Holidays. (School holidays or school vacation time such as summer/winter break do NOT count as a free vacation day– use any of these days and it will be deducted from your 8 & 10)
2) Your housing, school, location and co-teacher are all either hit-or-miss.
You could get a good situation or you could get a very bad to lousy one, on ANY or ALL of the above mentioned. While you may be a bit more protected than working at a hagwon, there are still shady schools who will attempt to push beyond contracts or not honor them. EPIK can only enforce so much.

7 Comments

  1. Nadine says:

    Hey. I’m looking into going the Korea route and was wondering (since you kind of suggest it) how to go about getting in touch with schools directly?

  2. maximuz04 says:

    Hey Christine,
    I am compiling info on how to teach in Korea and came across this. Good to know. I thought you guys got 6 paid weeks. Hagwons get 2 so thats still more than us!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Hi Julio! No, EPIK got 18 days + national holidays, but I think it’s increased to 21? days since I’ve been away. But EPIk gets to take them in chunks. Universities can garner vacations like 4-6 weeks depending on your uni.

  3. Malou says:

    Apparently, this is a DMOE issue. Our EPIK friends over in Gyeonggi province have a more lenient office of education and more time off. Though, I would hate to complain in case that causes them to lose their time off too. 🙁

    • @Malou: Are you serious?! Damn- they’re lucky. Well, it’s an EPIK contract which is up to our DMOE to enforce. Daegu is the 3rd largest city in Korea so it’s understandable our DMOE might be more Nazi. Was reading Korea Diva’s blog and it seems like their contract on the vacation time is enforced in Busan. Last year, she spent her school’s winter vacation in her school office! I really don’t get the logic of making us come in when the entire school is closed. That’s just cruel. But here’s an interesting question I recently came up with… aside from that additional 5 day vacation reward for Teacher’s Excellence that people are now trying to get with their schools, do we have unpaid vacation days that we can use? That’s another angle.

  4. Laura Cancun says:

    I read your friend’s blog as well, with his complaint letter. I hope ya’ll stand up for yourselves and make sure you get everything you were promised.

  5. Kelsey says:

    Man, you guys are getting screwed! When I worked on Jindo, I had 8 weeks of vacation! That is, in fact, one of my arguments for contracting directly with the school instead of through EPIK. It gives you a lot more flexibility in your contract.

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