The Teacher Recruiter Relationship
It’s important for all applicants, regardless of what agency they are working with, to be aware of the legalities. Recruiters are not legally responsible for mishaps or contractual disputes between the teacher and their Korean employer. Recruiting agents are essentially third party representatives; therefore, once you sign a contract with a school you become their legal responsibility as a paid employee. Because of this factor, many teachers have been left to fend for themselves upon arriving in Korea which ultimately leads to much of the negativity and animosity between teachers, schools and recruiters.
Although recruiting agencies are not legally responsible it is important that they are morally responsible. Morally a good company, such as Gone2Korea, should assist their teachers with the following:
- Addressing the issue with your director/employer and assist in diffusing the problem so that both parties are satisfied with the outcome.
- Provide legal resources and assist you with sending a formal complaint to the labour board if needed
To avoid being left alone while you’re in Korea consider the following factors before deciding on an agency.
- Make sure the recruiting agency you’re working with is a licensed business.
- Make sure they run a legitimate full time business and are not a small part time operation that is recruiting teachers during their free time.
- Make sure they’ve been in business for a certain number of years and have the experience and resources to help with problems that may arise.
- Make sure that you trust your recruiter, if things appear or sound too good to be true then there’s a good chance they are.
- Ask your recruiter if they have had to deal with contract disputes in the past (with former teachers) if so, how did they deal with the situation.
- Make sure you can reach your recruiter when needed. If you’re having a hard time getting in touch with your recruiter before departing, then reaching your recruiter upon arrival in Korea will likely be even more difficult
- Ask your recruiter what government offices are in place to assist western teachers in Korea.
Despite what any recruiting agency (whether it’s a one man operation or a large well established company) tells you, there’s always some risk involved for the applicant. When you take a job on the other side of the world with a small privately owned business in a non-English speaking country that has different values and morals, there will always be the possibility of small things that you, your recruiter and your employer, cannot account for in advance. It’s important to understand and prepare yourself for this before you’re already on the plane.
Common legal questions from western teachers in Korea
What happens if my employer doesn’t honor the contract?
It’s difficult to give a proper answer to this question because it depends on the nature of the contract and the stipulation that’s being neglected. Note: Before you threaten your employer with legal action it’s wise to speak with the school management first. If the management isn’t willing to address the matter then we advise contacting your Gone2Korea representative for further assistance. Please remember that Korean culture tends to view signed contracts much differently than Westerners – Visit our ESL Contracts page for more information.
What happens if the teacher doesn’t honor the contract?
Schools usually provide teachers with a verbal or written notice before terminating the contract. If the teacher continues to dishonour certain aspects of the contract then the school will most likely terminate the contract and hire a new teacher.
What happens when teachers get into trouble with the law?
It depends on the nature of the incident. It’s not uncommon for the Korean authorities to cancel work visas, issue fines, blacklist teachers from future employment in Korea and in some cases, have teachers deported or even imprisoned until their deportation papers are processed (for offenses that are deemed ‘serious’). Assault, theft or getting caught with illegal narcotics is usually enough to get deported. Advice: Don’t break the law!!!
What happens if the teacher needs to return home before their contracted term has been completed?
A signed contract doesn’t prevent teachers from leaving the country – teachers are free to leave whenever they want. However, people who leave without notice (a.k.a. pull a midnight run) will likely have difficulties securing a work visa in the future. Gone2Korea advises all teachers who need to leave early to do so legitimately; meaning, tell your school that you need to return home so they can make preparations for a suitable replacement.