South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia. It occupies the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. The country is bordered by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) to the north, the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the east, the East China Sea to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west. It is separated from the Japanese island of Tsushima by the Korea Strait. South Korea’s largest industries are electronics, automobiles, telecommunications, shipbuilding, chemicals, and steel.
*Please note that the official currency is the currency of remuneration when employed through WorkMotion in South Korea.
South Korean won (₩, KRW)
Languages spoken :
51.74 million (2021 est.)
Minimum wage 2023 :
2,060,740 won per month
Cost of Living index :
$$$$ (20 of 139 countries)
Payroll Frequency :
VAT - standard rate :
GDP - real growth rate :
4% (2021 est.)
The approximate time for sharing the contract with an employee in South Korea is 6 business days assuming no special requests or changes to our standard employment contract. Any such requests or changes would need to undergo internal and external review, directly leading to a time delay.
NOTE: This number is subject to change and is only an estimation of the Contract Sharing Time. The estimated Contract Sharing Time begins from the moment that WorkMotion has received all required information from both the client and the employee.
The notice period is standard for all employees, regardless of the length of service or position held.
The law does not specify the minimum or maximum period for probation but it is required to be reasonable.
There is no statutory provision for sick leave due to personal reasons in the South Korean Labor Standards Act. Employers can set their own regulations in the employment contract or through collective agreements.
Health check-ups should be conducted at least once every two years for office workers (every year for non-office worker).
The standard workday is eight hours and the standard workweek is 40 hours excluding hours of break. Employees are entitled to a rest break of one hour for every eight hours of work or 30 minutes for every four hours of work.
The maximum number of working hours per week is 52, consisting of 40 regular hours and 12 overtime hours. Overtime is paid at 150% of the standard salary rate.
There is no explicit regulation of probation periods in South Korea’s Labor Standards Act. Prior versions of the Labor Standards Act once referenced “probationary periods” of three months or less in duration, which led many employers in Korea to include three-month “probationary periods” in company policies. However, there is no express prohibition or limitation in Korean Labor Law to this time period.
Employees are entitled to at least 30 days’ notice in cases of dismissal, and, if the employer fails to give such advance notice, they are liable to pay that worker ordinary wages for not less than 30 days.
Employees who have worked for not less than 80% of one year are entitled to 15 days of paid leave. Employees who have continuously worked for less than 80% of one year are entitled to one paid-leave day for each month during which they have continuously worked.
Each employer must grant any worker who has continuously worked for no less than three years paid-leave days that are calculated by adding one day for every two continuous working years, not including the first one year to the 15 paid leave days. In this case, the total number of paid leave days, including the additional paid leave days, must not exceed 25 days.
There is no provision for sick leave based on personal injury or disease in Korea’s Labor Standards Act but the leave may be provided for in collective agreements or employment contracts.
However, employers are required to provide paid leave for work-related illnesses or injuries for the duration of the illness. An employer must pay a worker who is under medical treatment compensation for suspension of work equivalent to 60% of the average wage during the period of medical treatment.
Where a pregnant female employee or an employee applies for a leave of absence (hereinafter referred to as “childcare leave”) in order to enjoy maternity protection or to raise his or her children (including adopted children) aged eight years or younger or in the second grade or lower of elementary school, respectively, their employer should grant permission thereof. The period of childcare leave should not exceed one year.
All pregnant women are entitled to a leave of absence to prepare for and recuperate from the birth of their child. A minimum of 45 days must be granted both before and after birth, totaling 90 days’ paid leave. This leave of absence should start approximately 45 days prior to the expected date of birth. If the birth is delayed the employer must still provide at least 45 days worth of payment after the birth of the child, in order to allow the employee to recuperate.
The first 60 days of maternity (including miscarriages and stillborn) leave are fully paid by the employer and the remaining 30 days are covered by unemployment insurance.
Employees are entitled to 10 days of paternity leave, five paid by the employer and five days paid by the social security/government, from the date that the child is born up to 90 days.
Where an employee applies for leave to receive fertility treatment such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, an employer must grant leave to the employee for a period not exceeding three days a year, and in such cases, the first day is paid by the employer and the other two are unpaid.
Employees who have a parent, spouse, child, or spouse’s parent requiring care due to a serious illness, injury, or in the case of parents of an advanced age, may request an unpaid Family Care Leave of up to 90 days per calendar year. This leave may be taken in increments, as long as one increment is at least 10 days.
Every employer must, when any female worker files a claim for a physiologic leave, grant them one day of physiologic leave per month. The menstruation leave is unpaid.
The aim of national health insurance is to improve public health and promote social security by covering healthcare service costs, such as preventative treatment, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation treatment for diseases, injuries, childbirth, and death.
The total premium for national health insurance is 7.09% and it is shared equally between the employer and the employee. Therefore, the employer’s contribution towards healthcare insurance is 3.545%. The maximum monthly health insurance premium is KWR 7,822,560.
Long Term Care Insurance
The social insurance system provides long-term care benefits to the elderly who have difficulties taking care of themselves for more than six months due to old age or geriatric disease. It supports their physical activities or housework based on the principle of social solidarity.
For the year 2023, contributions towards long-term care insurance are capped at 0.91% which are shared equally between the employer and the employee at 0.455% each.
Worker’s Accident Compensation Insurance (WCI) is a state-run social security program for workers with work-related injuries, disease or disability, or any circumstance exposed to danger that can result in death while at work. Making contributions to WCI is compulsory only for employers.
The contribution rate is imposed by the social security office considering working environments (currently from 0.7% to 18.6% of total wages and payroll, depending on the type of industry).
The aim of employment insurance is to contribute to the improvement of workers’ quality of life by providing temporary income support to unemployed workers while they look for employment or to upgrade their skills. Benefits from unemployment insurance include unemployment benefits, maternity, and parental benefits.
The unemployment insurance rate for employers is currently capped at 1.15% and 0.9% for employees.
In South Korea, the aim of the national pension is to secure the retirement benefits of Korean citizens with income security, thereby promoting national welfare in the case of retirement, disability, or death. Benefits of the national pension include the old-age pension, disability pension, and survivor’s pension.
The national pension contribution rate is pegged at a total of 9% of salaries per annum which is split between the employer and the employee equally. Therefore, both the employee’s and employer’s contribution is 4.5% each.
Levies are imposed on employers failing to meet the disability employment quota of 3.1%.
The Disability Employment Fund targets:
Levies are used for a variety of disability employment promotion programs, including loans and subsidies.
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