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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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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Hiring English-Speaking Korean Labor Lawyers in Korea

In most cases involving employment issues concerning foreign language teachers and hagwons (not company executives), Korean labor lawyers may not be a cost-effective means of handling your dispute. Often a Nomusa (노무사) is an adequate means to resolve the dispute with your employer. A Nomusa is, however, often not adequate for high-net worth individuals, company executives and for complex cases.  These type matters, often, should be filed to a court or shall be, likely, appealed from a Korean Labor Board to a court.  A Nomusa may not handle cases in Korean Courts.  Additionally, often the skills and experience of Korean lawyers are essential in the more complex, unique and many cases concerning foreigners. Simple, a Nomusa is a licensed labor professional (not a “Labor Lawyer”). These individuals, often, market themselves as Korean Labor Attorneys, however, this title is not an accurate title for these individuals.  A Nomusa is not an

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Increased Scrutiny of Employers by Korean’s Ministry of Employment & Labor under President Moon’s Administration: HR Audit Needed by Korean Employment Lawyers

Many Korean Employment Lawyers are taking note of the recent initiative by Korea’s Ministry of Employment & Labor.  At the end of June of 2017, the Ministry announced an “Unfair Labor Practice Eradication Initiative.” This Initiative intends to investigate and punish perceived “unfair labor practices” of employers in Korea by having the Ministry of Employment & Labor conduct more audits of companies and provide punishment for those perceived to be in violation of Korea’ Labor Law.  It is time to do an internal audit of the labor practices of your company.  The audits completed by Labor Lawyers (not actually lawyers usually- usually NoMusa – licensed labor professionals) is, often, not adequate.  These individuals are unable to take cases to the court and, typically, do not have the nuanced necessary to adequately advise on more complex labor matters concerning strategy.  The “Unfair Labor Practice Eradication Initiative” shall: Increase the Frequency &

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Termination after Childcare Leave in Korea: Childcare Leave Law in Korea

Korea’s generous Childcare Leave Law poses difficulties to many smaller employers in Korea.  The Childcare Leave Law, in Korea, allows for a one year period of leave per child under the age of seven. Employers, often, are required to hire a replacement employee when the employee departs for this childcare leave.  This situation, often, leads to an employee returning to employment with little to no work to do. So can an employer, in Korea, layoff the returning Korean worker for the lack of a position for the worker? The answer is, typically, NO.  Notwithstanding, the issue of tenure and the selection criteria for layoffs, the law specifically notes the following. I. Childcare Leave Law: Prohibition of Termination of Employee based on Childcare Leave Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act Art. 19 notes: (3)”No employer shall dismiss or take any disadvantageous measure against a worker on account of childcare

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Can you Revise Employment Rules in Korea without the Agreement of Employees?

The Guidebook on Wage System Reform, published by the Korean Ministry of Employment & Labor, has sparked more interest, in the private sector, than the revamping of Korea’s wage system based on seniority. The major issue, in this regard, is if the Rules of Employment of a company may be amended, without violating the Labor Standards Act of Korea (“LSA”), when “wage system reform” is not consented to by a majority of the employees or the trade union. Numerous Korean government agencies have successfully moved to a more merit-based promotion and bonus system from a strict seniority-based wage system.  The private sector has carefully watched this trend, because of public failures by noted international conglomerates. The private sector, to date, has been slow to move to a merit-based wage or like system because of these public failures. The MOEL’s Guidebook on Wage System Reform (“Guidebook”) was drafted to be a

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