Korean Contractual Holidays vs. Statutory Holidays: Korean Paid Leave/Holidays Explained

The, only, statutorily mandated holidays are the Weekly Holidays under Article 53 of the Korean Labor Standards Act; Labor Day under Article 55; Maternity/Paternity Leave under Article 74; and Annual Paid Leave under Article 60.  These statutorily mandated holidays are required to be paid holidays under law.

Most companies recognize Sunday, Independence Movement Day, Foundation Day, Liberation Day, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Lunar New Year, Hangul Day, Buddha’s Birthday, Christmas Day, Children’s Day, Election Day and Memorial Day as days off.  These Public Holidays and Sick Leave are not required to be paid days off.  However, most companies specify that these are paid leave days under the rules of employment of the company.   

Thus, for example, a company may require an employee to take time off on a particular Public Holiday instead of taking annual paid leave.  Also, an employer may dock annual leave for a sick day.  These practices, however, are rare in practice. 

Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team and Entertainment, Media and New Tech Law Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. He assists clients in their contentious, non-contentious and business developments needs in Korea and China.

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