Employment Support for Disabled Soldiers in the Line of Duty as per the Amended Korean Act on the Management of Civilian Personnel in the Military Service 2019

The bill on the Amendment to the Korean Act on the Management of Civilian Personnel in the Military Service (hereinafter as “Amendment to the Act on Civilian Personnel in the Military Service” or “Act”) was passed by the Korean National Assembly on March 28, 2019. The Act is intended to improve the financial and work-related recovery of Korean military soldiers, which are disabled by an injury during military service. History and Legal Background to the Amendment to the Act on Civilian Personnel in the Military Service of Korea The main trigger for the amendment was an accident in 2016, where a young man lost his leg due to a land mine near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The man was injured during his mandatory military service. Compensation for Disabled Military Personnel The Korean Military Pension Act provides, inter alia, a retirement pension, a severance pay and a pension for wounds (compare

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Korean Workplace Discrimination Laws

There are numerous Korean labor and employment laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees in a Korean workplace. These Korean workplace discrimination laws are found in a myriad of Korean statutes and regulations. This article on Korea’s discrimination laws shall provide a quick guide as to where employers and employees can locate the basic requirements under law. The major pieces of legislation are the following: the Korean Labor Standards Act; the Korean Equal Employment Opportunity Act; the Korean Fixed-term Workers Act; and the Act on Prohibition of Age Discrimination in Employment and Elderly Employment Promotion of Korea. The Labor Standards Act of Korea The Labor Standards Act (“LSA”) is one of the primary sources of labor law in Korea and provides minimum standards for conditions of all employment. As far as discrimination is concerned, Article 6 of the LSA prohibits employers in Korea from discriminating based on gender.

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Suspending Korean Workers without Pay due to Economic Fallout from the Coronavirus: Korean Employment Law Basics

IPG has numerous client-employers in Korea that are facing serious economic conditions because of the spread of the coronavirus across Korea. In my nearly two decades, in Korea, we have never seen such a dire situation. This situation seems, on its face, even more dire for those in F & B and certain manufacturing sectors than the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (IMF Crisis). Yes, I was even in Korea during the Asian Financial Crisis. Korea, as of the writing of this post, is approaching 6,000 confirmed cases (35 confirmed deaths) of the novel coronavirus. While arguments exist that this virus is less serious, in the aggregate, than the seasonal flu, the reality is that business in Korea, and throughout much of the world, has been drastically affected by COVID-19. Some of these companies doing business in Korea have no logical choice but to, among other things, temporarily layoff workers, reduce

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52-Hour Workweek Delayed in Korea for SMEs: Korean Labor Law Update

The Korean government delayed the implementation of the 52-hour workplace system for certain small and medium size companies. This System is intended to apply to all companies in Korea and mandates that no employee may work for an employer for more than 52-hours in any one week. The Ministry of Employment and Labor of Korea announced, on December 11, 2019, that the 52-hour workplace system is suspended for SMEs (Employers with less than 300 workers) until the end of 2020. The Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor made the announcement, because of fears that the measure may harm these businesses. We are of the opinion that because of recent changes in the enforcement of Korean labor laws, it is advisable to revise company employment rules, agreements and have a compliance audit for your company in Korea. If you would like a call with an attorney at IPG, please schedule a

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Definition of “Ordinary Wage” in Korea: Korean Employment & Labor Law Basics

The courts of the Republic of Korea, for years, has struggled to find a consistent interpretation of an “Ordinary Wage.”  The definition of Ordinary Wage, under Korean Law, was clarified by the Korean Supreme Court in two decisions handed down on December 18, 2013.  The calculation of Ordinary Wages is important, since it is utilized to calculate statutory entitlements, and thus has an impact on the aggregate amount of contributions necessary to be paid to employees. For example, according to Article 56 of the Korean Labor Standards Act, an employer must pay 50% of the Ordinary Wage plus the Ordinary Wage for overtime, night and weekend work performed by the employee. Because of the potential for a large unknown future liability, this issue became the most significant issue, in the last few years, among domestic and foreign employers in labor and employment law in Korea. The basic Korean test is

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Minimum Wage Raised in Korea for 2020: Employment Law Updates

South Korea has chosen to raise the minimum wage by 2.9% for 2020 to KRW 8,590 (c. USD 7.11).  The Minimum Wage Commission of Korea set the wage at a lower than expected increase because of deteriorating economic conditions in Korea. President Moon’s plan to raise the minimum wage to KRW 10,000 per hour shall fall short, because of, among other things, a slower than expected growth rate and regional geopolitical issues facing Korea.  We shall keep the reader updated when more is known.

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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

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Terminate/Layoff an Employee in Korea: Terminating an Employee in Korea

The Korean Labor Standards Act mandates that employees under “contract” or “regular employees” may only be terminated for “justifiable reason attributable” to the employee or “urgent managerial necessity” after the completion of the employee’s probationary period. Both Korean employment law standards are, often, difficult for an employer to meet without the professional structuring of HR policies and procedures and a nuanced approach to termination of employees in Korea. We strongly recommend, prior to even considering firing or laying off Korean workers, to put a system of internal controls/systems in place that provides evidence to substantiate Korean employment terminations decisions.  We see too many companies in Korea that lack the systems necessary to substantiate termination.  Modest changes can, often, be refreshing for managers. FYI – Company executives/directors are, normally, not considered company “employees” and thus are not benefited by most of the protections afforded by the Korean Labor Standards Act.  However,

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English-Speaking Korean Labor & Employment Lawyers in Korea

This Korean Law Blog is brought to you by English-speaking Korean labor lawyers & employment lawyers working for IPG Legal – an international law firm with offices in Korea.  Sean is the author of this blog and English-speaking Korean lawyers contribute to the blog.  Please find below a few of the most recent matters we have worked on. Leading rating services have rated IPG attorneys as leading lawyers working in Korea and throughout Asia. To learn more, please drop us an email or give us a call. IPG’s Korean Labor & Employment Law Team Experience Drafted Korean employment agreements, employee handbooks, employment rules and formed a pension and corporate compliance system for a NASDAQ-listed company with a subsidiary in Korea. Oversaw a leading manufacturer’s reduction of 5% of the headcount in China and Korea.  Prevailed in cases of foreign employees of Korean companies who were wrongfully dismissed from these Korean conglomerates. 

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Amendment to Korea’s Occupational Safety and Health Act in 2019

The amended Occupational Safety and Health Act of Korea (hereinafter as “OSHA”) entered into force on January 15, 2019. One major aspect of the revision is that it has raised the risk of liability of representatives of institutions and companies and companies for workplace industries in Korea. The amended Korean OSHA law is expected to increase the risk to company management, increase liability of companies and increase options for employees that are perceived to have been harmed because of the actions or inaction of employers. Korean OSHA Basics Importer or Manufacturer of harmful and/or dangerous chemicals should draft a Material Safety Data Sheet and send it to the Ministry of Employment & Labor for approval. The Material Safety Sheet is publicly published – in most cases. Hazardous work shall not be contracted out by companies to third parties. However the amendment provides some notable exceptions (beyond the scope of this

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Sean Hayes attended the Korea Business Forum

The Korean Business Forum is one of the leading private groups of senior executives in leading companies doing business in Korea. The group meets, at least, monthly to discuss major issues affecting businesses in Korea. I, highly, recommend applying for membership in the Korean Business Forum. This month’s meeting addressed issues facing the Korean economy, the new labor policy of the Moon Administration, and major reasons why Korea is still important for international businesses. Some interesting takeaways: Korea is the 11th largest economy by nominal GDP in the world. Korea is the 4th largest economy in Asia. Korea is the leading chip manufacturer and shipbuilder in the world. Korea is the 4th largest oil producer and 6th largest car maker in the world. Korea is the 6th largest exporter in the world. Korea’s household debt is one of the highest in the world. Korea ranks low in the World Competitive

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“Probationary Periods” in Korean Employment Contracts for Newly-Hired Workers

Korean companies should consider negotiating stipulations to create “probationary periods” at the start of employment to train and assess newly-hired Korean workers. Often companies wish to evaluate workers over a set period of time after concluding a labor contract to assess the worker’s abilities and intelligence, and to allow the worker time to gain familiarity with the work.  This period of employment is called a “probationary period.” The practice is relatively unregulated by the government. The Labor Standards Act of Korea provides, among other things, minimum standards for conditions of employment, prohibits discrimination and the use of force or violence against workers.  But, it provides little guidance on regulating “probationary periods.”  The only guidance the Labor Standards Act provides can be found within Article 35, which states that employers do not need to provide 30 day notice of dismissal to workers under a “probationary period” and within Article 77, which

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Is your Korean Employee a Dispatched Worker and Thus a De Facto “Employee” under the Korean Labor Standards Act?

In 2015, the Korean Supreme Court detailed standards in determining if a Subcontracted Worker in Korea is actually a Dispatched Worker and, thus, a de facto employee of your Korean Company.  The designation has implications for retirement benefits, employment security and the payment of benefits. Dispatched Workers vs. Subcontracted Workers Companies employ, in Korea, often workers via manpower supply companies and via subcontracting agreements.  These employees are not retained directly by the Company, but are retained via a manpower company (“Dispatched Worker”) or a subcontracting agreement (“Subcontracted Worker”). The difference in these two type of relationships lies in the control over the workers – not in the mere nature of the retention according to the Korean Courts.  If the Company has a sufficient degree of control over the worker, in the eyes of the specific Korean court, the worker is deemed a Dispatched Worker and, thus, an employee of the

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Consequences of a Business Transfer in Korea: Employee Transfer?

In Korea, there is no statutory provision for the protection of employees in the event of a business transfer. Therefore, it has been left to the Korean courts to decide whether, and in what circumstances, employee transfer may occur as part of a business transfer.  The following is a basic explanation of the law of business transfer in Korea as it relates to the relationship between an employer and an employee. The Korean courts have generally held that, in the event of a business transfer, unless the employee objects, the employment relationship between the employee and employer (transferor) will automatically transfer to the transferee (without any need for the specific consent of the employee) – inclusive of the terms and conditions of the employment relationship existing at the time of closing of the business transfer, unless otherwise agreed to.  However, while it is a fairly well-established principle, this right to

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Choice of Law Issues in Employment Disputes in Korea

Choice of law/jurisdiction issue often arise in Korea when an agreement chooses a law/jurisdiction for resolution of a dispute other than Korea, internal conflicts in the agreement exist (yes this happens) or no choice of law/jurisdiction clause was chosen and the agreement seems to be better handled by a foreign court, or by the law of the foreign jurisdiction, because of, inter alia, the locale of witnesses and the subject matter of the agreement. Choice of law/jurisdiction issues are governed in Korea mainly by Korea’s Private International Act (KPIA).  However, other acts often trump the KPIA, or else the courts use built-in “public policy” arguments to allow Korean law to trump the non-Korean chosen law. For example, in the majority of employment law disputes, Korea courts have invalidated choice of the law and jurisdiction clauses that note a law or jurisdiction other than Korea. For example, if a employer hiring someone for

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Employment Background Checks in Korea: Not so Different from China

My friends over at the China Law Blog posted an article quoting the Chinese Business Leadership blog that noting that: “We were placing a GM for a Western family owned factory. They are small and troubled.  We found 15 thoroughly qualified candidates for the position. We had candidates tell us they worked at a company 5 years when they only worked. We had candidates tell us they were super valuable,  and the company does not want to let them go. We were able to find out that they were fired a year before while still in probation. As the last of the group of 15 refused to come clean and give us an accurate resume, we shook our heads in dismay. We are excellent at interviews and interview 90 minutes as our goal is to know. Despite that, we were unable to uncover these issues before the background check. We

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7 Musts to Succeed in Business in Korea

We have the unique pleasure to have a bird’s-eye view of numerous clients’ businesses in Korea.  At this stage of our experience in Korea we are, typically, able to determine which companies will, likely, succeed and which companies will, likely, fail.  We are far from perfect, but companies that succeed in Korea, normally, have the following seven things in common: 1.  Comprehensive Understanding of the Korean Market by a Neutral Local Consultant This understanding, normally, comes from one of the few business consultants, in Korea, that are capable of providing a decent market overview with a detailed list of potential targets and contacts within these targets.  We, only, work with a handful of Korean consultants, since most, we find, don’t have the skills necessary to proactively assist client, but still sell market research reports that seemed to be, only, obtained through a Google search. 2.  Great Initial Representative Director for

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Korean Independent Contractor Risks: Korean Labor Standards Act Basics

The Korean Court System has been less reluctant, in recent years, to deem a Korean independent contractor an “employee” under the Labor Standards Act (LSA).  This fact remains true even when an employer establishes that the independent contractor is aware that he/she was contracted as an independent contractor, thus, not a regular employee of the Korean company. Upon the establishment of the status as “employee” in Korea, the individual is entitled to all of the benefits of an employee including, inter alia, severance and employment security, thus, increasing the compliance, tax, payroll and other risks to the foreign-capital invested Korean company. Obligations to Employees under the LSA The obligations to employees under the LSA are extensive and beyond the scope of this short article.  The more significant and obvious are the Korean legal requirement to provide severance benefits and employment security. With regard to severance benefits, a company must pay,

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Korea’s Occupational Safety and Health Act Amendments for 2018 (OSHA Korea Updates)

Because of the perceived need, in Korea, to protect workers’ emotional and physical health in the service sector, the Occupational Safety & Health Act of Korea (“OSHA Korea”) was amended.  The major OSHA Korea amendments impose a: Duty on Employers to Protect the Emotional & Physical Health of Employees  The OSHA Korea Amendment mandates employers, in the service sector, to protect the emotional and physical health of employees from abusive acts of customers.  We do not, yet, have substantial details on the actions needed to be taken by employers to meet these legal obligations.  Enforcement actions against employees and an enforcement decree shall shed light on the specifics and we shall update the reader when more is known.We advise that employers in the service sector review policies in place in order for employers to not run afoul of the new OSHA law.  It seems like a proactive approach that includes

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Dismissal of Employees in Korea: Supreme Court of Korea Precedent

The Korean Supreme Court ruled, in March of 2018, that a company may terminate employees for one incident of employee gambling.  The case stems from the termination of drivers that were caught on one occasion gambling prior to driving buses. The lower courts ruled, in short, that gambling was not a serious enough offense to justify termination since: The act of gambling, only, occurred on one occasion and thus trust between the employee and employer has not broken down; The employees performed their job functions adequately; and The non-termination of employment of the employees would not significantly interfere with the ability of the employer to successful continue its business- if the employees do not engage in these acts in the future. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower court and noted that: Gambling could effect the rest period of the drivers and the job of the drivers requires

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