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Korean Labour Laws

The following is a badly edited summary of the Labour Standards Act of Korea, based upon the list provided by attorney Rodney Pantony of the law firm Samwon International, located in Kangnam-ku.

1. APPLICATION: This statute sets out the rights of employees. Generally Korean courts have held that it applies to foreign or illegal employees as well as Korean employees. (Note. other statutes may provide additional protection.) The statute prevails over contracts. It applies to employers with 5 employees. It even applies to government employers. Art. 2, 10, 11; Korean Supreme Court cases; direction to Ministry of Labour.

2. CONTRACTS: Both employer and employee must comply with collective bargaining agreements, employment agreements and rules of employment. Both must act in good faith. (Art. 4) Note Under the Korean Civil Code an offer (of employment)cannot be withdrawn.

3. FOREIGNERS: Employer cannot discriminate against foreigners. (This statute applies to foreigners) Art. 5

4. THREATS: Employers shall not threaten, beat, or confine employees. Art 6,7

5. EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES: Prohibited unless licensed. Art. 8

6. TIME OFF: Permitted for official business. Art. 9

7. POSTING OF RIGHTS : Employers must post a summary of employee rights as well as the rules of employment (fine for failure 5,000,000 Art. III)

8. EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS: Employer is bound by provisions of agreement or Labour Standards Act, whichever favours the employee; Employer violation gives right to damages and travel expenses home Art. 20 ~ 23

9. DEDUCTION, PENALTY, SAVINGS: Not allowed even if you quit. Art. 24,26

10. DISMISSAL : Generally difficult under Korean law. (For those to whom it applies, the Private School Act provides dismissal for: Art. 58 1. (2) unable to fulfill duties for one or more years service record extremely poor (3) aims to destroy government (4) participation in political or labour group (5) gives unlawful grade an recording or false attestation in student record. etc. 30 days pay or notice is required).

11. LACK OF NOTICE : Termination without notice is allowed for destroying the school. Art. 27-2

12. LABOUR INSPECTOR OR HEARING : A teacher can request an inspection or hearing within 3 months of the wrongful act.

13. SEVERANCE/RETIREMENT PAY: Applicable to employment one year or more. Payable within 14 days of leaving. Art. 28 (for KORETTA and other teachers the Education Act and Private School Pension Act have similar provisions)

14. PROBATION: Not applicable to 1 year contracts. Art. 29

15. CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT : Must be provided forthwith upon request. Art. 31

16. VACATION: One day per month + 10 days per year 22 days (+ 12 days for females 32 per year) Art. 47 ~ 48. Statutory holidays are additional.

17. RULES OF EMPLOYMENT : Required for 10 or more employees, consultation required to draft; consent of majority required to modify; approval with Ministry of Labour required: 1. Hours 2. Calculation of pay and overtime 3. Family allowance 4. Retirement 5. Bonuses 6. Education 8. Safety 9. Accident relief 10. Commendations and sanctions.

18. ENFORCEMENT: Only Labour Inspector and Public Prosecutors are able to investigate and enforce Labour Standards Act.

19. PUNISHMENT OF EMPLOYER: Maximum is five years or 30,000,000 Won

20. MEDICAL: Employer must provide once/year CONTRACTS: Always obtain an original signed copy. Make sure you know your company's name, address, telephone number, fax, name of your employer, name of person who signed the contract, beneficial owner, and so on.

PASSPORTS: Provide copies not originals.

IMMIGRATION VIOLATION: Labour rights above apply. Fines average 1,000,000 Won. Use of Korean lawyer or Workers Counselor advisable. Purchase of airfare in advance of surrender to Immigration investigator advisable.


Tel: 795-5504 Fax: 749-6055

DUTY LAWYER: 525-1919 BAR ASSOCIATION COUNSELING FOREIGN WORKERS: 521-0030 FRIEDRICH-EBERT-STIFTUNG: Tel: 745-2648 Fax: 745-6684 OECD and international labour laws may also apply

Douglas Thompson