January 30, 2024
SEOUL – Seoul Metropolitan Government on Monday said it has suspended one of its allegedly lowest-performing employees of their duties, marking the first time it has suspended an official solely based on their performance.
Confirming earlier media reports, Seoul City Hall said it gave the lowest performance evaluation marks to four Seoul employees last month. The other three with the lowest grade have been transferred to other duties.
Since 2019, the evaluation committee of the city government has conducted biannual evaluations of its officials that are grade 5 and below, based on which they could be transferred to another department, have their pay docked and even theoretically be dismissed from duties. But no Seoul official has ever gotten the lowest marks in the four-grade performance review.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the first employee to receive a suspension for low performance did so due reportedly to dumping work on others, using profanity and showing a threatening attitude toward their colleagues.
Seoul officials said that this employee will be mandated to receive training from the city government in regards to their performance for the following three months, after which the city will either reinstate the employee or dismiss them completely.
The recent move by the Seoul government has garnered attention because civil servants have long been considered practically impossible to fire. The State Public Officials Act does stipulate that a government official can be dismissed if they are unable to carry out their duties, but it has been customary to fire a state official only in cases of severe unethical behavior or criminal acts.
Due to the job security government officials have traditionally had, becoming an entry-level grade 9 civil servant has once been considered a dream job among the country’s youth. The competition for the state exam for the post, the lowest out of the 9 grades of civil servants, peaked in 2011 at 93.1-to-one.
But popularity of the job has been on the decline in the recent years, largely due to its relatively-small paycheck. The competition for this year’s exam for grade 9 workers marked 21.8-to-one, the lowest figure since 1992.