Korea Amends the Act on the Employment, etc. of Foreign Workers in 2019: Employment Law Updates

Amendment to the Act of the Employment, etc. of Foreign Workers in Korea (hereinafter as “Amendment to the Act of the Employment of Foreign Workers” of Korea) was proposed by the Korean Environment and Labor Committee in December 2018. The focus of the Amendment of the Employment of Foreign Workers is on the improvement of the living conditions of foreign workers at dormitories provided by their companies.

Major Changes Due to the Amendment and the Struggles on the Way

Addition of Criteria for the Dormitories to the Requirements to Obtain Permission for Hiring Foreign Workers in Korea?

The original bill contained the regulation in Art 8 (3) Act of the Employment of Foreign Workers that the criteria for dormitories shall be added to the requirements that employers in Korea must meet in order to receive permission to hire foreign workers, if they – in general – provide dormitories to foreign workers. After the proposed revision, it was pointed out that the implementing criteria for the dormitories to the requirements to obtain permission for hiring foreign workers might be misleading. Foreign workers may think that all employers, necessarily, have to provide dormitories, which is obviously not the intention of the proposed regulation. Thus, the proposal implementing the criteria for the dormitories was rejected and the current Art 8 (3) shall remain unchanged.

Mandatory Information About the Dormitory at the Time of Signing the Job Contract

In addition, the proposal contained a newly inserted Art 22-2, which describes that if “…an employer provides a dormitory to foreign workers, the employer shall comply with the provision of Article 100 of the Labor Standards Act and shall provide foreign workers with information about the dormitory at the time they sign the job contract.” This passed without change, unlike the original second half of this newly inserted paragraph, which stipulated that “…central and/or local governments may finance the establishment and operation of worker dormitories.”, which was rejected due to the lack of specific measures presented to secure the necessary funds.

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