I never thought I’d be at this point as a person. I need to work on controlling my temper. I know I can be stubborn and want things a certain way, but I’m feeling sort of mixed on this.
In Korea, especially working at a hagwon (the private schools that are independently owned and are a dime a dozen), it’s fairly common knowledge that schools can (doesn’t mean they all do…just have to be very cautious. Many are in this just to make money, not because they care about actually educating children) just close up overnight or you might have a director that doesn’t pay you on time, etc.
We have a new director and he seems nice and is investing money in our school (which our last owners didn’t), so that’s all good. But…
Ok, I was going to try and make a long story short, but I think some backstory is necessary.
I (along with previous employees) got 5% taken out of my check by the school–they said for tax purposes, but we all assumed it was actually to keep the foreigners from doing a midnight run (to the airport and going home), because it was written into the contract that you’d get the money back at the end. Uh…which is also not legal. They aren’t supposed to take things out that aren’t allowed by the government).
But anyway, I resigned a new contract when the new owner got here (new owner, new contract), and insisted it was removed.
The other foreigners get paid on the 10th of each month (1st for me–apparently because of that 5% clause…which doesn’t make sense to me)–and I wanted to still be paid on the same day and have the clause removed. I can’t just not get paid for an extra two weeks because of that. Sorry.
Anyway, fast forward to now–last month I had issues getting paid and had to ask about it 3 times but it was apparently something with the accountant. “The accountant hadn’t sent them the paper showing how much money to take out for taxes”. Um..ok..even if that’s the case, then you should have been working on that well before my payday. That payday also happened to be the day I was supposed to be leaving for Seoul so I could leave the next morning for the Philippines. Without a paycheck.
They said they could just put the full amount into my check and I could wire back the money from the taxes…which…whatever, but they should have been getting the information from the accountant BEFORE payday happens….not just “Oh sorry! Please understand the situation….”
Btw… “Please understand” is the most common thing you hear here when there’s some sort of dilemma. And there’s never a solution attached to it. Just “Please understand”…it’s more of a “Please understand what I’m saying”…not a “please understand the situation.”
It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Ugh. There’s no way of SOLVING anything…just “understand”. And if you say “I understand”, then it’s your way of agreeing with them and saying that whatever is happening is completely ok with you.
Anyway, so my payday rolls around this month (yesterday), and I was already going into it with my expectations very low because of the previous month’s issues.
I got another schpeal about the accountant (IMO, get a new accountant). Apparently “she’s lazy” and hadn’t sent over the form again (HOUND HER..paying your employees is important). I was pissed off inside and just really annoyed. The head-teacher and director said I would “definitely” get paid Monday after they talked with the accountant. I left and was basically like “Right. Monday for sure.”
Which, in my contract it says the 1st of each month, and I was talking with a co-worker after I left and she reminded me that I shouldn’t have to put up with their crap and feel extra stressed because of their laziness/mistakes/etc. If I get paid on the 1st, I should be paid on the 1st. End of discussion.
So, I went back up to the school after our conversation, hoping to see someone who could fix the situation and our director was sitting at the front desk working on some paperwork.
I talked with him and said that I needed to get paid today (yesterday). That I have bills to pay and I needed to get paid. He asked if I was angry and I said that I was a little angry and frustrated. He apologized for the situation and brought more of the “Please understand” crap into the conversation, but wired the money over right then and there.
I also mentioned that the other teachers were nervous about getting paid on time (because they are—there’s a bit of tension running through the school–which I suppose is normal because we have a new owner. Another girl had issues getting paid last month too, except she got too much, and they never got back with her when she was trying to right the situation.)
Anyway, he seemed worried when I mentioned that people were worried about getting paid on time. (Which is true, because there’s a lot of tension around the school due to having a new director, and not being sure what kind of person he is).
I’m a bit worried whether I said too much, but I also feel more confident that it won’t happen again.
I feel that I also need to stand up for my rights, because here especially, you need to look out for yourself because there aren’t many others that will. Especially when it comes to the workplace.
I think it’s the lingering part of my western mindset that makes me feel like I may have overstepped a boundary line, but when I take into account the experience I have here so far, I feel like I did what’s right. A bold move, but a necessary one.
It isn’t unheard of here for hagwon owners here not to pay on-time or to just leave in the middle of the night (and no one notices for a few days) while taking the money and leaving.
It’s not super common from what I’ve heard, but it’s still an issue either way, and I still feel like I need to look out for myself.
Another thing is that I have bills at home set for automatic withdrawal back home and if I don’t have any money in my account because I’m not paid on time (and it takes a bit of time for the money to clear once I make a transfer) then it’s my own neck on the chopping block when loans or other bills are late. Not theirs. And they won’t give a damn about it either. Not that I expect them to, but yeah, I also don’t want the new owner to think he can just push me around.
He seems nice, but that’s common here too. Everything is for show. Look nice, get a fancy degree, but there’s a whole different something beneath the exterior.
(Note: I’ve met a lot of great people OUTSIDE of the business/work/school world here that are great, but that is the general mentality.)
Anyway, I think it’ll be better once I get home to a bit of normalcy. It’s also supposed to be easier the second year because you already know the culture and are familiar with things. So, here’s to that.
Oh, and 7 days!!