[Q&A: Labor Law] As an English Teacher in Korea, Am I Entitled to a Severance Pay, Even Though My Contract Doesn’t Provide It?

Q) I am on an F2 visa and teaching for 28 months at the same Hagwon. The contract between myself and the owner is basically a few written lines, just mention salary and final teaching date. There is no mentioning of the severance payment. According to the labor law, am I entitled to severance payment even though it is not mentioned in a short contract?

A) If and to the extent that you are legally regarded as an employee under Korean labor law, you are entitled to a severance pay under Korean labor law.

The term employee under the Korean labor law is someone who provides labor pursuant to his or her employer’s instructions or directions in exchange for wage compensation.  The important factors for classifying someone as an employee are, among other things, (i) whether the person receives instructions or directions from an employer, so there exists a superior/subordinate relationship and (ii) whether the wages the person receives are of a nature that compensates for the labor he or she provided.  In many cases, foreign English teachers in Hagwon or school are being regarded as employees under Korean law.

It doesn’t matter whether your contract provides the severance pay clause or not, because your right to severance pay is a statutory right.  As I explained in my other posts, Korean labor laws (especially the Guarantee of Workers’ Retirement Benefits Act or Pension for Private Teachers and Staff Act) guarantee the minimum severance payment or pension plan for the employees.

I hope this to be of assistance to you.  If you have more questions on severance payment or any other Korean labor law-related issues, please send an email by clicking here or visit Legal Consultation page.  Our Korean licensed labor lawyers, not a U.S. lawyer residing in Korea, will answer your inquiry.

Also, you can find a stack of competent legal information and articles on Korean labor law, written by a Korean licensed lawyer, by clicking here.

© 2010 Mr. Wonil Chung, a Korean Lawyer/Chung & Partners, a Korean Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein, which may or may not reflect the most current legal development, may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations. 


  1. The link for your legal consultation center on this page doesn’t work. Where is it? and what are the operating hours?

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