August 3, 2023
SEOUL – The number of civil service workers who resigned from their positions after less than a year on the job has doubled over the last two years.
According to data released by Rep. Lim Ho-seon of the Democratic Party of Korea, up to 3,064 civil servants voluntarily resigned after being on the job for less than a year in 2022, double the 1,583 who voluntarily resigned in 2020.
The number of those who resigned after two years on the job also doubled over the last three years. In 2022, 6,136 civil servants resigned, while 3,225 resigned in 2019.
One of the biggest reasons why most civil servants are leaving after a short period of time is due to their low satisfaction with their work environment. This year, grade 9 civil service workers in their first year on the job earned 1.78 million won ($1,373) per month, which is less than the minimum monthly wage of 2.05 million won based on the hourly minimum wage of 9,620 won. Although grade 9 workers receive up to 18 different types of extra pay, such as work subsidies and meal expenses, 20 to 30 percent of their pay in total is deduced as public charges and taxes, leaving them with a salary below minimum wage.
A 32-year-old woman surnamed Jo also recently left her civil service position for the same reason.
“I really wanted this job when I was studying to take the civil service exam,” Jo told The Korea Herald. “I had so much work on my plate, but I wasn’t getting paid enough for it. So I left, and I’m searching for a different job in a different field.”
The Seoul Metropolitan Government Employees’ Union has been calling for an increase in grade 9 civil service workers’ wages to match the minimum wage, as “the rate of newly hired civil servants has been rapidly increasing.” The Ministry of Personnel Management has released a statement saying it would reduce the time it takes to be promoted from being a grade 9 civil servant to grade 3, from 16 years to 11 years. However, critics like professor Koo Jeong-woo from Sungkyunkwan University’s department of sociology say that such measures are not enough.
“Instead of just reducing the time it takes for one to be promoted as a civil servant, their work environment and organizational culture needs to be improved as well to make grade 9 workers stay in their positions longer,” Koo said.