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06 February 2019
In 2018 there were major reforms to South Korean employment laws, including (but not limited to) the Labour Standards Act. This resulted in many employers struggling to adjust employees' weekly working hours to comply with, for example, the new 52-hour limit. In 2019 the legislative reforms and amendments proposed in 2018 have taken effect. This article highlights two major changes in the employment law landscape for 2019.
Employers will soon be required to prevent workplace harassment (effective 16 July 2019). In this regard, 'workplace harassment' has been defined as acts inflicting physical or mental distress on, or creating a hostile work environment for, co-workers through the use (or abuse) of one's position or relationship in the workplace.
Before the amendment, there were no provisions in place to prevent workplace harassment. However, the amendment (effective 16 July 2019) will introduce:
Notably, the amended Labour Standards Act mandates employers to develop and incorporate anti-bullying policy terms into their rules of employment alongside the measures that will be taken when workplace harassment occurs. In the wake of the additional compliance requirement, employers are strongly advised to review and update their rules of employment and file the amended rules with the Ministry of Employment and Labour by 16 July 2019, when the new law takes effect. The amended standard applies to acts of workplace harassment that occur after the effective date of the amendment.
The Labour Standards Act provides statutory exemptions from the termination notice requirement (ie, 30 days' notice or payment in lieu thereof) under limited circumstances. Before the amendment, the statutory exemptions varied depending on the forms of employment and the duration of employment. Under the amended Labour Standards Act, the law now contains a uniform standard which must be applied to employment contracts executed after 15 January 2019.
Before the amendment, the termination notice requirement did not apply to the following employees:
After the amendment, employers may be exempt from the termination notice requirement where the employee's continuous service time is fewer than three months.
For further information on this topic please contact Sang Hoon Lee or William Woojong Kim at Lee & Ko by telephone (+82 2 772 4000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Lee & Ko website can be accessed at www.lawleeko.com.
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