Vacation Time for EPIK Teaching

You might have read in my Why Teach English in Korea post that you get a lot of vacation time for EPIK! This post explains how that works 🙂

Paid Vacation Days

With public schools through EPIK and GOE (Check out programs besides GOE) you get 26 days of paid vacation with EPIK. You can take these days only at specified times. Unless you have a really good relationship with your school(s) you won’t be able to take it off for say, a friend’s wedding, or graduation, etc. This kind of relationship normally only occurs after you’ve worked there a couple of years.

So how can you take your vacation? Let me give you an example:

I spent 10 days in Japan in January. I used 4 vacation days to get this. How? I made sure I went to Japan during Lunar New Year (which Japan does not celebrate so things would be open). Lunar New Year involves 2-3 Red Days (to be explained below). So, including weekends (which do not count towards your vacation days, don’t let a school try to con you), I got 10 days.

But here’s my whole allocation as it should have been had it not been for the virus.

  • A random day to make a three day weekend and I went to Andong and Jinju (1)
  • January 18th – January 27th: Japan (4)
  • February 15 – March 1st: Italy (10)
  • April 30th-May 5th: Taiwan (1)
  • August: Uzbekistan (10) The schedule doesn’t get released until rather late so I just know it would have been some time in August

That’s 26 days total! Now, you should know that sometimes you will be forced to take a vacation day. In the cases where your school has it’s own holiday, or when a Red Day falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, they may make you use a Vacation Day to make a 4 day weekend. Just make them show you a schedule beforehand so you can know for sure when those will be and you can plan an actual vacation for them.

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The Outskirts of Kyoto, Japan, courtesy of 4 vacation days.

Red Days

You are guaranteed to have all of the public holidays Korean people had, called Red Days. There’s about 14 of these every year. Lunar New Year and Chuseok (Korea’s Thanksgiving) are your best ones as they amount to 2-3 days off in a row. Labor Day is a weird one, as it’s technically not sure thing that you’ll get it off for free. My school has given it to me for free but I know some schools make you use a Vacation day. So make sure you check while you’re calculating what the deal is. You can find a list of Red Days here.

Sick Days

You have 11 sick days as a teacher – but you shouldn’t think of those as vacation days. And you shouldn’t use very many of them if you’re hoping for a renewal contract. Try to aim for less than 6 as a good number. They are paid though! And you absolutely should not be afraid to use them if you need to. There is no reason for you to get other people sick. I’ve only used two but since my school just denied me unpaid leave with the Coronavirus (they are still making me come to work despite the fact that there are no kids) so I’ll be using a few more of those…

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Rome, Italy, courtesy of 10 of my vacation days!

Unpaid Vacation Days

Sometimes, in unusual situations, you can be offered or request unpaid vacation days. Normally this only happens if you’ve already used all your vacation days. This is why my school denied my request. My friend has already used all of her vacation days so she has been able to request unpaid leave until school starts again, if she wants it. It’s also possible if you only have 9 days of vacation days left and you want your vacation to go into the weekend that they may give you an unpaid day. But don’t expect this to work, it’s just possible. 

Rare Situations

If your school knows you well I have heard of people very occasionally being allowed to take vacations at weird times. I’ve heard of someone who finished their contract early using their vacation days to go to grad school orientations. Again, this kind of stuff is super rare but it has happened so it bears mentioning.

Anyways! I hope that gives you an idea of what vacation time for EPIK teaching is!

Check out my other posts:

Programs Besides EPIK to Teach in Korea

There’s More to Korea than Seoul! Check These Places Out

Deskwarming in Korea (What it is an why)

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