Strengthened guarantee of annual leave for employees who have worked for less than one year: Effective 29 May 2018
Currently, the Labor Standards Act (the “LSA”) provides that employees who have worked for a company for less than one year accrue one day of paid leave per month within the first year of continuous employment. However, if an employee uses these paid leave days within the first year of employment, then the number of used paid leave days is offset against the number of paid annual leave days the employee is awarded in the second year of employment (i.e., 15 days for employees who have recorded 80 percent or better attendance in the first year of employment) (Article 60 (3) of the LSA). Therefore, as a result, employees only receive a maximum of 15 days of paid annual leave in total for the first two (2) years of employment.
The new revisions to the LSA are such that Article 60 (3) of the LSA has been deleted. Therefore, even where employees who have worked for less than one year use their paid leave days, there will be no offset against the paid annual leave days (i.e., 15 days) provided to the employees after one year of continuous service with the company. As a result, employees will be able to receive up to 26 days of paid annual leave during the first two (2) years of employment (up to 11 days in the first year of employment and 15 days in the second year of employment).
Strengthened guarantee of annual leave for employees reinstated after childcare leave: Effective 29 May 2018
Under the current version of the LSA, a period of statutory childcare leave is not counted as attendance at work for the purposes of calculating an employee's paid annual leave day entitlement. However, when the revision of the LSA becomes effective on 29 May 2018, the change in statutory wording expressly guarantees the leave entitlement of employees returning from childcare leave. After the LSA amendment, the childcare leave period will be considered as attendance at work for the purposes of calculating an employee’s paid annual leave day entitlement, and the paid annual leave days for employees who are reinstated after childcare leave will also be fully-guaranteed. (Article 60 (6) (iii) of the revised LSA will be applicable to employees who apply to take childcare leave after 29 May 2018 when Article 60 (6) (iii) becomes effective.)
Increased obligations on employers to take appropriate measures when sexual harassment occurs in the workplace: Effective 29 May 2018
Under the revised Gender Equality Employment and Work-Family Balance Support Act (the “GEEA”), anybody can report an occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace to the relevant employer. The employer then has an obligation to conduct an investigation and take necessary measures to protect the victim, (such as changing the place of work, placing the victim on paid leave, etc.) An employer that violates these obligations may be subject to an administrative fine of up to KRW 5 million.
The revised GEEA prohibits an employer from dismissing, or taking any other disadvantageous measures against, an employee who has reported the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace and/or the victim of the sexual harassment. The revised law also increases the criminal fine (from KRW 20 million to KRW 30 million) against an employer that violates the aforementioned prohibition. Further, under the revised GEEA, even in a situation where the acts of sexual harassment have been committed by a client, customer, etc., an employer is under an obligation to take necessary measures to protect the victim, (such as changing the place of work, placing the victim on paid leave, etc.) A breach of these obligations may subject the employer to an administrative fine of up to KRW 3 million. Additionally, the content of the employer’s sexual harassment prevention training conducted every year should be posted in a public area readily accessible by employees. An employer that violates this obligation may be subject to an administrative fine of up to KRW 5 million.
Leave for fertility treatment ("Fertility Treatment Leave"): 3 days of leave per year: Effective 29 May 2018
The revised GEEA now requires an employer to provide Fertility Treatment Leave (3 days per year) for employees who wish to receive medical fertility treatment, such as artificial insemination and IVF (in vitro fertilization). An employer is required to provide the first day of the three days of Fertility Treatment Leave as paid leave (the other two days are unpaid leave days).
The revised GEEA also prohibits employers from taking disadvantageous measures (such as dismissal or disciplinary action) against an employee on account of taking Fertility Treatment Leave. An employer that violates this obligation may be subject to an administrative fine of up to KRW 5 million.
Expansion of the scope of industrial accidents during "usual" commuting: Effective 1 January 2018
The Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act (the "IACIA") has been amended such that, in addition to accidents that occur while an employee commutes to or from work under the control and management of his/her employer, an accident occurring while an employee commutes to or from work using his/her usual route and means (e.g., the employee's own car, bicycle, walking to work, commuting using public transportation) will be, in principle, deemed to be an occupational accident.
Employers are under an obligation to conduct training to improve employees' awareness of disabled persons: Effective 29 May 2018
Under the amended Act on Employment Promotion and Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Persons, an employer is required to conduct training to improve its employees' awareness of disabled persons to eliminate bias in the workplace towards disabled persons. The rationale for this amendment to the legislation is to facilitate stable working conditions and to promote the employment of disabled workers in the workplace. An employer that violates this obligation may be subject to an administrative fine of up to KRW 3 million. It is also useful for employers to note that the Ministry of Employment and Labor may also identify companies as good employers in relation to the employment of disabled persons. Such companies may then enjoy favorable treatment when entering into contracts with the state, local governments, and public institutions for construction work, or to provide goods or services.
The 2018 minimum wage is KRW 7,530 per hour as of 1 January 2018, which represents a 16.4% increase (increase of KRW 1,060) compared to 2017, when it was KRW 6,470 per hour.