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Native English teachers entitled to severance pay: top court

The top court has ruled that native English teachers working at private language institutes here are eligible for severance pay and annual vacation allowance according to the Labor Standards Act. / Courtesy of Dalseo-gu District Office
The top court has ruled that native English teachers working at private language institutes here are eligible for severance pay and annual vacation allowance according to the Labor Standards Act. / Courtesy of Dalseo-gu District Office

By Kim Jae-heun

The top court has ruled that native English teachers working at private language institutes here are eligible for severance pay and annual vacation allowance according to the Labor Standards Act.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an appellate court's decision to recognize native English instructors as employees protected by the law and thus provide them various allowances.

But the court sent the case back to the Seoul High Court to amend the calculation of such payment.

The lawsuit started in 2015 when eight English teachers sued their language institute demanding unpaid severance pay and allowances in lieu of annual vacation.

The foreign workers claimed that they were employees protected by the Labor Standards Act as the language academy assigned them to classes with textbooks it made. But the institute argued that the English instructors are self-employed individuals because they were all paid differently according to the number of students.

A local court ruled in favor of the institute saying the foreign language instructors were not employees as they had different styles of teaching, they had no fixed work hours and they did not have a separate teachers' room from their classrooms.

However, the appellate court ruled the instructors were assigned to particular classrooms at particular times and required to come to their classrooms an hour before the lectures, so they should be recognized as employees of the institute.

The Supreme Court upheld the appeals court decision and ordered the academy to provide severance pay and other allowances provided to other Korean employees.


The top court has ruled that native English teachers working at private language institutes here are eligible for severance pay and annual vacation allowance according to the Labor Standards Act. / Courtesy of Dalseo-gu District Office
The top court has ruled that native English teachers working at private language institutes here are eligible for severance pay and annual vacation allowance according to the Labor Standards Act. / Courtesy of Dalseo-gu District Office

By Kim Jae-heun

The top court has ruled that native English teachers working at private language institutes here are eligible for severance pay and annual vacation allowance according to the Labor Standards Act.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an appellate court's decision to recognize native English instructors as employees protected by the law and thus provide them various allowances.

But the court sent the case back to the Seoul High Court to amend the calculation of such payment.

The lawsuit started in 2015 when eight English teachers sued their language institute demanding unpaid severance pay and allowances in lieu of annual vacation.

The foreign workers claimed that they were employees protected by the Labor Standards Act as the language academy assigned them to classes with textbooks it made. But the institute argued that the English instructors are self-employed individuals because they were all paid differently according to the number of students.

A local court ruled in favor of the institute saying the foreign language instructors were not employees as they had different styles of teaching, they had no fixed work hours and they did not have a separate teachers' room from their classrooms.

However, the appellate court ruled the instructors were assigned to particular classrooms at particular times and required to come to their classrooms an hour before the lectures, so they should be recognized as employees of the institute.

The Supreme Court upheld the appeals court decision and ordered the academy to provide severance pay and other allowances provided to other Korean employees.


Kim Jae-heun jhkim@koreatimes.co.kr


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