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Subject   Revisions of the Labor Laws at the Second Half of 2021

Revisions of the Labor Laws in the Second Half of 2021

Labor Attorneys Eonsoo Jeong, Yeana Yu, Gerald Staruiala


1.        Creation of Administrative Fines for Workplace Harassment        3
2.        Simplification of Procedures for Substitute Payment by The Korean Welfare Corporation in The Event of Default by The Employer for Unpaid Wages etc.        4
3.        Allowance for Fire Officers, Educational Officials (Teaching Assistants, Educational Expert Officials) And Retired Public Officials to Be Eligible Union Members        5
4.        Allowance for Retired Teachers to join Teachers’Unions        7
5.        Enforcement of Individual Payment Confirmation System for Medical Expense of Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance        8
6.        Improvement of Approval Standards for Noise Induced Deafness as An Accident on Duty        9
7.        Implementation of Employment Insurance for Persons in Special Types of Employment        10
8.        Increase of Coverage for Persons in Special Types of Employment        12
9.        Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance        13
10.        52 Working Hours Per Week System Expanded Application to Business With 5 Employees or More        14
11.        Mandatory Issuance of Pay Stubs When Paying Wages        15
12.        Guaranteed Maternity Leave Benefits for Fixed-Term and Dispatched Workers        16
13.        Enforcement of The Revised Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act        17




Increase of the Fines for Employers that Fail to Comply with Remedy Orders for Unfair Dismissal Etc.

Background        • Increase in the amount that the Labor Relation Commission can fine an Employer in the event that the Employer does not comply with the remedy as ordered by the Labor Relations Commission
Content        • Increases in the fines for Employers who fail to comply with an order for remedy from 20 million KRW to 30 million KRW
Enforcement Date        • Nov 19, 2021

□ The fine the MOEL can issue to an Employer who fails to comply with an order issued by the MOEL for remedy has increased from 20,000,000 KRW to 30,000,000 KRW starting from Nov 11, 2021 (Labor Standards Act, Amended May 15, 2021)

◯ Amended Act applies to Unfair Dismissal, etc. that has occurred after Nov 19, 2021.
◯ Applies to an Employer who fails to comply with an Order issued by the Labor Relations Commission, for example ‘Reinstatement” or “Payment of lost wages during the Employees work suspension period”, shall be fined for failure to comply with the Order of 30,000,000 KRW each time, up to a maximum of 4 times in a one year period for up to 2 years in total.
◯ With this, it is expected to contribute to a prompt restitution for Employees.


Creation of Administrative Fines for Workplace Harassment

Background        • To enhance the effectiveness of prohibition on workplace harassment and enforcement of workplace harassment systems
Content        • Creation of administrative fine (not exceeding 10,000,000 KRW) for the Employer when an Employer is the cause of the Workplace harassment.
Enforcement Date        • Oct 14, 2021

□ In order to reinforce the effectiveness of Prohibition of Workplace Harassment system, additional administrative fines have been created with enforcement starting from Oct 14, 2021.

◯ When if an Employer (including the case when the Employee is a relative according to the Article 767 of Civil Act) causes workplace harassment, they shall be punished by an administrative fine not exceeding 10,000,000 KRW,
◯ When an Employer doesn’t take appropriate measures, such as investigating the case, for the victimized Employees or take disciplinary measures against the perpetrator of workplace harassment etc., they shall be punished by an administrative fine not exceeding 5,000,0000 KRW.
◯ With this, it is expected to contribute to the protection the victim of workplace harassment more stringently and to lead to greater voluntary enforcement of the statutes by the Employer.

Simplification of Procedures for Substitute Payment by The Korean Welfare Corporation in The Event of Default by The Employer for Unpaid Wages etc.

Background        • Unpaid Wages, and other monetary compensation, owed to Employees which the Employer did no pay upon the final ruling of the MOEL were difficult to collect and Unfair Dismissal claims were only available to current Employees
Content        • The scope of application of the law has increased to included current Employees previously retired Employees were the only parties that were covered by the Act.

• The request for substitutive payment by the Korean Welfare Corporation use to take up too 7 months because the applicant had to wait for all final appeals to be completed
• procedures now allow for MOEL Labor Board order to an Employee to make payment of wages which the Employer has failed to abide by for a period of two months or more to be accepted and acted upon by the Korean Welfare Corporation to allow them to make payment on behalf of the Employer
• The Employer then has to pay back the monies paid out on their behalf by the Korean Welfare Corporation
• A Certificate of Unpaid Wages from the Labor Board and a delay of two months in the payment are now the only requirements
Enforcement Date        • Oct 14, 2021

□ In-service employees, current employees, shall be able to claim small amount substitute payment for unpaid wages starting from 14 Oct, 2021.

◯ The employee shall be able to claim small amount substitute payment even without the requirement of a Korean Civil Court to rule on the validity of the Certificate of Unpaid Wages from the MOEL Regional Labor Office. The Certificates of Unpaid Wages etc. issued by the MOEL Regional Labor Officer are the only statutory document required.
◯ Korean Term of “Surrogate pay” changes into “Substitution pay for unpaid wages”

Allowance for Fire Officers, Educational Officials (Teaching Assistants, Educational Expert Officials) And Retired Public Officials to Be Eligible Union Members

Background        • Expansion of Public officials’ fundamental labor rights in accordance with the ratification of International Labor Organization (ILO) core convention
Content        • Abolishment of clauses limiting the scope of eligible Union membership based upon the Civil Service Official grade achieved.
※ After amendment there still are some limitations based upon the active duties of the Civil Servant (such as Public Officials who exercise the right to direct and supervise other Public Officials etc.) have not changed. Among Public Officials above grade five, those who are in practice shall be able to be eligible for Union membership.
• Eligibility of Fire Officers and Educational Officials (Teaching assistants, Educational expert officials*) to have Union membership

※The Supervisory Officials, the School Inspectors, the Educational research officials, the Educational researchers that conform to the Educational Officials Act.

• Allowance of the retired Public Officials whom were eligible for Union membership (Article 6(1)1. through 3. of the Establishment and Operation, etc., of Public Officials' Trade Unions Act*) to join a Union if the bylaws allow it

※General Public Officials, Foreign Affairs, Consulate, Foreign Service Information & Technology, Fire Services Officers, Educational Officials, and other Specific Public officials
Enforcement Date        • Jul 6, 2021



□ By the Amendment of The Establishment, Operation, etc., of Public Officials' Trade Unions ACT, the scope of eligible Union membership for public officials’ has expanded.

◯ To be concrete, the clause that limited the scope of eligible Union membership to general public officials below grade six and equivalent officials thereto were abolished. The amendment included Fire officers and Educational officials and retired Public officials into the scope of the Act.

※ Provided that, still the limitation through duties such as the public officials who exercise the right to direct and supervise other public officials etc. maintain after amendment.

Allowance for Retired Teachers to join Teachers’Unions
Background        • Strengthening of the Labor Basic rights for retired teachers in order to ratify ILO’s core convention.
Content        • Allowance of the retired Teachers to join the Teacher Unions.
Enforcement Date        • Jul 6, 2021

□ By amendment of Act on the Establishment, Operation, etc. of Teachers’ Unions, retired teachers now shall be eligible members of teachers’ Union.

◯ The amendment is to ratify the ILO’s core convention, guaranteed the retired teachers with Basic Labor Rights such as the right to organize etc.
◯ The enforcement date of the amendment is Jul 6, 2021


Enforcement of Individual Payment Confirmation System for Medical Expense of Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance
Background        • To reduce the overbilling of Employees who are eligible for medical care benefits under the Industrial Accident Insurance program of the Worker’s Compensation an Welfare Service
Content        • If an Employee makes an individual payment for the medical expenses, they can ask the Korea Worker’s Compensation and Welfare Service for confirmation if the payment is considered a medical care benefit and should be paid by the Worker’s Compensation and Welfare Service.
• If there is an overpayment by the Employee to the medical institution, the Hospital, the Korea Worker’s Compensation and Welfare Service will refund them.
Enforcement Date        • Jun 9, 2021

□ From Jun 9, 2021, the individual payment of medical expenses of which an Employee made excessively, can be refunded from the insurance-related medical institutions.
※ Newly inserted Article 41-2 of Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act

◯ There were some cases that the medical institutions charging the Employee for the medical expenses even it was deemed a medical care benefit and the Employee should not have paid.
◯ When an employee ask the Korea Worker’s Compensation and Welfare Service for confirmation whether if an individual payment of medical expense was covered by the Medical Care benefits from Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act the Korean Workers Compensation and Welfare Service will review of the expenses and determine the expense was covered or not and if not the medical institution should of refunded the excess payment.
◯ If the medical institution does not make the refund to the Employee, the Korea Worker’s Compensation and Welfare Service shall refund them instead.

Improvement of Approval Standards for Noise Induced Deafness as An Accident on Duty
Background        • To make Prompt and fair Industrial Accident Compensation by improving the approval standards of Noise Induced Deafness as an Accident on duty reflecting the advanced technique of medical treatment.
Content        ① Shortening the examination period,
② Reducing the requirements for reexamination and
③Establishing the requirements to omit reexamination.
Enforcement Date        • Jun 8, 2021
□ Improvement on the approval standards for accident on duty in order to decide if Noise Induced Deafness if an Accident on duty or not promptly.

◯ Noise Induced Deafness is an sensorineural deafness that is created by being exposed to continuous sound which is above 85dB (decibels) for more than 3 years in workplace and which results in above 40dB of the hearing loss of one ear.
◯ It took substantial amount of time until being approved as an Accident on duty by existing establishment, due to 3 or more hearing tests being required at intervals of 3~7 days, the required fulfillment of 5 requirements (which have been reduced to 3 requirements with the new standards), to carry out reexamination if not satisfied etc.
◯ The necessary period for the process of Accident on duty for Noise Induced Deafness will be shortened by amending the Enforcement Decree of Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act(Article 34(3) attached table 3).
① (Shortening the examination period)
now: at intervals of 3~7 days → amendment: 48 hours
② (Reduction on the requirements for reexamination)
now: 5 requirements → amendment 3 requirements
③ (Establishment of requirements to omit reexamination)
By New Examination methods*, the reexamination can be omitted when if existing examination result can be judged as trustworthy.
※ Auditory Brainstem Response test, Speech audiometry, Immittance audiometry etc.

Implementation of Employment Insurance for Persons in Special Types of Employment


Background        • Promotion of “National Employment Insurance” that gradually expands the coverage of employment insurance so that all working citizens can receive protection from the employment safety net.
Content        • Mandatory application of employment insurance to persons in special types of employment in 12 occupations.
Enforcement Date        • July 1, 2021

□ From July 1, 2021, persons in special types of employment must enroll into the employment insurance programs.

◯ As the coverage of employment insurance has been expanded to 12 occupations for persons in special types of employment, persons in special types of employment are also eligible for unemployment benefits and maternity benefits.
※ 7.1 Applicable occupations: Insurance solicitors, Solicitors of credit card holders, solicitors on registration of credit business, learning-aid tutors, door-to-door couriers, rental product visiting inspectors, home appliance delivery and installation engineers, door-to-door salespersons, truck owners, construction machine pilots, after-school instructors

1. Scope of Application
Applicable person        - 12 occupations of persons in special types of employment
Major Exclusions        - Persons with an average monthly income of less than 800,000 KRW during a labor contract (can be added from Feb. ‘22)
- 65 years of age or older (However, it is applicable to those who continue to subscribe to employment insurance before the age of 65)
2. Collection of Insurance Premium
Premium Rate        - Unemployment benefit 1.4% (persons in special types of employment 0.7%, Employer 0.7%)
Requirements        Contribution requirements        - Qualified days of Employment of 12 months or more out of 24 months before termination of employment
        Reason for Termination        - Involuntary termination (including termination due to the Employers’ reduced revenue as stipulated by Presidential Decree)
3. Payment of Job-Seeker Benefits
Payment level        - 60% of the Daily Wages as calculated by the Korean Welfare Corporation, calculated on the total amount of remuneration for the 12 months before the end of employment at the time of termination
Payment period        - 120 days~270 days
Recognition of Income Activity        - When income is earned by the beneficiary while job-seeking benefits the amount the beneficiary is to receive as a paid benefit shall be reduced by the income, they have earned
4. Payment of maternity leave benefits
Contribution Requirements        - 3 months before the date of childbirth (miscarriage, stillbirth)
Payment Level        - 100% of the average monthly remuneration for the year immediately preceding the date of birth
Payment Period        - 90 days (120 days for multiple children)

Increase of Coverage for Persons in Special Types of Employment
Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance
Background        • Due to the high rate of applications for persons in special types of employment for exclusion from workers' compensation insurance, was overlooked by previous workers' compensation.
Content        • Strictly limit the reasons for applying for exclusion from workers’ compensation insurance for persons in special types of employment.
• Persons in special types of employment Temporary reduction of workers' compensation insurance premiums.
Enforcement Date        • July 1, 2021
□ From July 1, 2021, reasons for exclusion from workers' compensation insurance for persons in special types of employment will be limited. (Enforcement of the revised Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act on January 5, 2021)

◯ The reasons for applying for exclusion are strictly limited so that persons in special types of employment can only be excluded from workers' compensation insurance during the period when they are unable to work for unavoidable reasons* such as sickness or childcare leave.

* ① In case of suspension for more than one month due to injury, illness, pregnancy, childbirth, or childcare, ② In the case the business is closed for more than one month due to reasons attributable to the Employer, ③ In case the Employer inevitably closes the business for more than one month due to natural disaster, war, or a disaster equivalent thereto, or the spread of an infectious disease under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act
◯ At the time of enforcement, the existing exclusions for persons in special types of employment will be applied again collectively, and persons in special types of employment who wish to be excluded must apply for exclusion again and be approved by the Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service.
□ Considering that the burden of industrial accident insurance premiums for Employers and persons in special types of employment increases due to restrictions on reasons for exclusion, a system for reducing industrial accident insurance premiums for high-risk, low-income, special high-skilled jobs (for one year from July 1, 2021) will be implemented temporarily.

52 Working Hours Per Week System Expanded Application to Business With 5 Employees or More

Background        • The reduction of excessive working hours for Employees has been a long term goal in the Republic of Korea.
Content        • Phased implementation of the up to 52 hour per week rule by Company size and industry
- July 2018: 300 or more Employees (300 or more workers excluded from the special industry will start in July 2019.)
- January 2020: 50-299 people
- July 2021: 5-49 people
Enforcement Date        • July 1, 2021

□ 52 working hours per week system expanded application to Business with 5 Employees or more

◯ Up to 52 hours per week rule applies to companies with 5 to 49 Employees.
- Current: Applies to 50 or more people
- Revision: Applies to 5 or more people


Mandatory Issuance of Pay Stubs When Paying Wages

Background        • Preventing labor-management conflicts related to arrears in wages by obligating the issuance of wage statements and promoting quick resolution of disputes
Content        • When Employers pay wages, it is mandatory to issue a pay stub
• Wages composition items and calculation methods, and if wages are deducted in accordance with the proviso to Article 43 (1) of the Labor Standards Act, the details, etc. shall be specified in the wage statement.
• Wage statement can be issued as an electronic document in accordance with the 「Electronic Document Act」 in addition to paper
Enforcement Date        • Nov 19, 2021

□ From November 19, 2021, the Employer must issue pay stubs when paying wages to workers.

◯ In the pay stubs, the composition items and calculation method of wages, and the details of wage deductions according to laws and regulations or collective agreements, etc. must be recorded.
※ For details on the wage stub, refer to 「Enforcement Decree of the Labor Standards Act」
◯ Pay stubs can be delivered in writing or electronic documents in accordance with the Framework Act on Electronic Documents and Transactions
◯ When pay stubs are issued, Employees can check the details of wages and prevent disputes between labor and management over wages.
※ A fine of not more than 5 million won is imposed for violations of the issuance of wage statements


Enforcement of The Revised Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act

Background        • Ratification of ILO core conventions and improvement of labor-management relations system
Content        • Under the Trade Union Act, any worker can establish and join a Union.
• Elimination of the prohibition of wages for full-time Union Employees, but integrate the working hour exemption system (unification)

• Extension of the upper limit on the validity period of a collective agreement from 2 up to 3 years/Improvement of the system related to collective bargaining
• Establishment of the principle of prohibition of industrial action that obstructs operation by excluding the occupation of Employers
Enforcement Date        • July 6, 2021

□ The revised Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act will come into effect from July 6, 2021.
◯ The revised Union law reflects the ILO's Freedom of Association Agreement, the most universal international standard related to basic labor rights, while reflecting the characteristics of labor-management relations at each Korean Company
◯ From July 1, 2021, regardless of the size of the Company, an equivalent amount of maternity leave benefits will be paid for the remaining vacation period.

Criteria        Amendments
Qualifications to join a trade Union        - Persons who are not employed by the Company (non-Employee), such as laid-off workers, can also join the Union for each Company.
Principles of Union activities for non-Employee Union members        - Non-Employee Union members must not interfere with efficient business operations during Union activities within the workplace.
- Decisions on the time-off limit for each workplace, the bargaining representative of the Union, and the voting for or against industrial action are based on Union members who are employed workers.
Qualifications of trade Union’s executive        - The qualifications of Union's executives can be freely determined by the Union's own regulations.
- The executives of the Union for each Company can be elected from among the members of the Company.
Paying full-time Union Employees        - Removal of regulations prohibiting payment of wages to full-time Union Employees
- Discipline through integration (unification) into the working hour exemption system
① Employers can still pay wages only within the limit of working hours exemption
② Collective agreements and Employer consent that exceed the exemption limit are invalid
③ Discipline as unfair labor practice when the Employer pays wages in excess of the exemption limit
Reorganization of the system related to collective bargaining        - In case of individual negotiations with the consent of the Employer, the duty to bargain in good faith and non-discrimination is granted
- State and local governments are obliged to make efforts to promote various negotiation methods
- Establishment of the basis for the integration of separate bargaining units
Valid period of collective agreement        - It can be freely determined within a period of up to 3 years by Labor-Management agreement
Industrial action in the form of occupying the office        - New principle of prohibiting industrial action that obstructs operation by excluding Employers from occupation


Guaranteed Maternity Leave Benefits for Fixed-Term and Dispatched Workers

Background        • Alleviation of the economic burden caused by childbirth of non-regular workers and establishment of the use of the maternity protection system without discrimination in terms of employment
Content        • When the contract period expires during the period of maternity leave to fixed-term or dispatched workers, regardless of the size of the Company, an equivalent amount of maternity leave is paid for the remaining leave period.
Enforcement Date        • July 1, 2021

□ From July 1, 2021, maternity leave benefits are guaranteed to fixed-term and dispatched workers whose employment contract has expired during maternity leave.
※ Equivalent amount of Maternity leave benefits: 100% of ordinary wages (up to 2 million won per month) for the remaining maternity leave from the expiration date of the labor contract to the end of the maternity leave

◯ In the case of fixed-term or dispatched workers, if the contract period expires during the maternity leave period, even if the statutory leave period is left, as the employment relationship is terminated, maternity leave benefits cannot be received.
◯ From July 1, 2021, regardless of the size of the Company, an equivalent amount of maternity leave benefits will be paid for the remaining vacation period.




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41 (1/3)
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Revisions of the Labor Laws at the Second Half of 2021
40 Korean labor law lectures in English - 12 hours (each 2 hours every Thursday evening at 7 to 9 pm)  
39 Minimum Hourly Wage decided for 2022, which is 9,160 Korean Won  
38 English lectures on Korean labor cases (every Thursday evening at 7-9) starting July 9; zoom-based
37 Newly enacted law on public holidays and their alternative holidays  
36 The Fatal Accidents Act  
35 The Korean Labor Law Bible (6th edition)
34 Manual on Irregular Employment and "Employee" Status
33 Manual on Working Hours, Holidays and Leaves
32 Announcement to Provide Mangement Service For Foreign-Investment Companies in Seoul
31 Publication of 'Wage Manual'
30 Book on labor union establishment, collective bargaining published in English
29 Congratulation for the publication of "Manual for Lawful Dismissal"
28 Congratulation for the publication of "The Practical guide for Foreign Employment and Immigration"
27 Kangnam Labor Law Firm’s Spring Seminar of 2019
26 Working Environment and Changes to Korean Labor Law in 2019
25 Congratulation for the publication of "Workplace Restructuring Manual"
24 Cogratulation! KangNam Labor Law Firm was selected as one of ten law firms by foreigners living in Seoul  
23 Looking for Labor Attorneys (2 persons) : Employment Information  
22 Weekly Working Hours in the Revised Labor Standards Act (2018)  

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