Korea Expands Definition of Discriminatory Treatment for Non-Regular Workers: Employment & Labor Law Update

Last March, the Korean National Assembly made changes to the Korean Labor Standards Act that may have a significant impact on companies doing business in Korea that employ non-regular workers.  The changes modify the definition of what constitutes “discriminatory treatment” against these non-regular workers.

In the old version of the Korean Labor Standards Act (“KLSA”), the definition of discriminatory treatment was listed as “unfavorable treatment in terms of wages, other working conditions, etc. given without any justifiable reasons.”

In the amendment to the KLSA, the definition has been expanded to include “regular bonuses, holiday bonuses, other bonuses that the employer pays to a worker as remuneration for work on a regular basis, incentives paid based on management performance, and other issues related to the working conditions and welfare benefits.”  The amendment, facially, imposes a significant added burden on companies with non-regular and regular workers. 

In addition to the expanded definition, the KLSA now requires employers to “proactively” check whether or not there is a difference in the working conditions of non-regular and regular employees.  As always, enforcement and court cases will determine the added cost imposed by this amendment.  We will update the reader on enforcement actions.

We have put together and are implementing a proactive and hands-on human resources audit program to determine the added risks imposed by the changes to Korea’s labor and employment law for clients that have taken advantage of our compliance audit and risk analysis program.  If you have never conducted a compliance audit – please do.  Many of the more proactive of firms have offered these programs to clients. 

Here are some other articles about Korean labor and employment law that may be of interest:


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