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.

Capital :
Seoul
Currency :
South Korean won (₩; KRW)
Languages spoken :
Korean
Population :
51.78 million (2020 est.)
Minimum wage 2022 :
1,914,440 won per month
Cost of Living index :
$$$$ (20 of 139 countries)
Payroll Frequency :
Monthly
VAT - standard rate :
10%
GDP - real growth rate :
4% (2020 est.)

Statutory Holidays

The holidays mentioned below are valid for the year 2022.

Date
Holiday Name
Extra Information
January 1
New Year's Day
January 31
Korean New Year Holiday
Movable - Seollal
February 1
Korean New Year
Movable - Seollal
February 2
Korean New Year Holiday
Movable - Seollal
March 1
March 1st Movement
Independence - Movement Day
May 5
Children's Day
May 8
Buddha's Birthday
8th day of the 4th lunar month - Movable
June 6
Memorial Day
August 15
Liberation Day (In lieu)
September 9
Harvest Festival Holiday
The day before Chuseok - Movable
September 10
Harvest Festival
Chuseok - Movable
September 11
Harvest Festival Holiday
Day after Chuseok - Movable
September 12
Harvest Festival Holiday
Movable
October 3
National Foundation Day
October 9
Hangeul Day
Korean alphabet Day
October 10
Hangeul Day Holiday
Korean alphabet Day
December 25
Christmas Day

Onboarding Time


When hiring new employees in South Korea through WorkMotion, the approximate onboarding time is only 6 business days. This time may be affected for events beyond our control at present.

 

Our team ensures compliance with local employment legislation, as well as a quick and efficient onboarding process. The minimum onboarding time begins from the moment that WorkMotion has received all required information from both the client and the employee. 

 

For more complex onboardings, this time may increase depending on the selected bouquet of contract inclusions and the right-to-work status of the employee.

What You Need To Know


  • 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.

Labor Conditions


Working Hours

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.

 

Overtime

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.

Probation Period

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. 

 

Termination Notice 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.

Leave / Time Off

Annual Leave

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. 

Every employer must grant any worker who has continuously worked for not less than three years paid-leave days that are calculated by adding one day for every two continuously 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.

Sick Leave

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.

Parental Leave

In South Korea, working parents with children under the age of eight (including adopted children) are entitled to childcare leave not exceeding one year upon request. A request for parental leave should be sent to the employer at least 30 days before the start of the leave period. The parental leave allowance is paid by social security.

 

Maternity Leave

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.

 

Paternity Leave

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.

Other Types of Paid Leave

Fertility Treatment Leave

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.

Unpaid Leave

Family Care Leave

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 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.

 

Monthly Physiologic Leave

Every employer must, when any female workers file a claim for a physiologic leave, grant them one day of physiologic leave per month. The menstruation leave is unpaid.

Statutory Benefits

The social security system of Korea has three components: social insurance, public assistance, and social welfare service. The benefits covered under social insurance are:

  • Health Insurance, Long term care insurance
  • Pension Insurance
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance
BenefitEmployer Contribution
Pension4.5%
Health Insurance3.495%
Long Term Care Insurance0.429%
Worker’s Accident Compensation Insurance (WCI) 0.7%-18.6%
Unemployment Insurance1.05% to 1.65%

Health Insurance

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 employer pays 3.495% towards healthcare insurance.

Long Term Care Insurance

The social insurance system provides long-term care benefits to the elderly who have difficulties in 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.

The LTCI contribution rate is set at a fixed percentage (12.27%) of the National Health Insurance contribution rate (6.99%) against income. This rate is shared equally between the employer and the employee.

Employer contributions towards long-term care insurance are capped at 0.429%.

NOTE. Long-term care insurance is administered under the National Health Insurance  Service (NHIS) so the total employer contribution collected by the NHIS is  3.924% for NHI and LTCI.

Other Insurances

Accident Insurance

 

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).

Unemployment Insurance

 

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 contribution rate for employers varies depending on the number of employees and type of industry, ranging from 1.05% to 1.65%. 

Public Pension

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, the employer’s contribution is 4.5%.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this Country Guide is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. The contents of this Country Guide contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this Country Guide without seeking the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. WorkMotion Software GmbH disclaims all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content included in this Country Guide.

Information provided in this Country Guide is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. WorkMotion Software GmbH periodically adds, changes, improves, updates, or removes information without notice, and assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the contents of this Country Guide. This Country Guide may contain links to other websites. WorkMotion Software GmbH disclaims all liability for the privacy practices or the content of such websites.

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