Dec. 26, 2017
A system in which domestic service agencies directly employ domestic workers to provide domestic services to users is to be introduced.
At a cabinet meeting on December 26th (Tue.) the government deliberated and decided on a bill to enact the Employment Improvement, etc., of Domestic Workers, which aims to institutionalize the domestic service market and strengthen the protection of domestic workers' rights and interests.
Demand for domestic services has been growing due to the increasing number of dual income households*. In spite of this, domestic services have been mostly performed informally under oral contracts between domestic workers and their service users.
* Number of dual income households: 5.07 million (43.6%) in 2011 → 5.33 million (44.9%) in 2016 (Local Area Labor Force Survey, Statistics Korea)
As a result, there has been a limitation in protecting domestic workers' rights and interests. For instance, they are not covered by the Labor Standards Act, retirement benefit plans, employment insurance and industrial accident compensation insurance.
Service users have also felt dissatisfaction because it is hard to secure reliability and accountability. For example, the present arrangement raises problems as to who is held responsible when an accident occurs while using services and how to respond when services are unsatisfactory.
Hence, the government has come up with legislation that requires domestic service agencies to bear employers' responsibilities prescribed by the Labor Standards Act, the obligation to manage services and compensate for damage and so on.
The main contents of the bill are as follows.
<Introducing a domestic service agency certification system>
The government will certify domestic service agencies which meet certain requirements. To be eligible for certification, a domestic service agency must be a juristic person under the Civil Act, the Commercial Act, etc., make employment contracts with paid domestic workers and have the means to compensate for damage.
Certified domestic service agencies will be required to take responsibility for all services provided by them, and various support measures the government is planning to develop will be applied only to certified agencies.
<Applying labor relations laws to protect domestic workers' working conditions>
Domestic workers who make an employment contract with a domestic service agency will be covered by labor relations laws and therefore guaranteed such rights as paid weekly holiday, paid annual leave and retirement benefits.
In particular, domestic workers will be allowed to work for 15 hours or more a week out of their own will or unless there is any special business circumstances to ensure that they are not excluded from labor relations laws because of too short working hours*.
* Workers whose working hours are less than 15 hours a week are excluded from paid weekly holiday, paid annual leave, retirement benefits, employment insurance, etc.
<Requiring service contracts to be made between domestic service agencies and their service users>
The bill requires official service contracts to be made between domestic service agencies and their service users and services to be performed based on such contracts.
Domestic service contracts should include matters concerning the protection of domestic workers, such as their safety and hours of rest, as well as types of services, hours of work and fees. MOEL will develop and publish a standard domestic service contract form.
Meanwhile, people will be allowed to use domestic services brokered or arranged by job placement agencies, as they are now, as well as those provided according to the enacted legislation. By doing so, both domestic workers and service users will be guaranteed the right to choose.
The bill will be discussed at the National Assembly in 2018, and if approved by the National Assembly, it will enter into force after a one-year grace period.
Employment and Labor Minister Kim Young-joo said, "The aim of the legislation is to guarantee domestic workers who have not been covered by labor relations laws their rights as workers and to provide reliable services to domestic service users."
She went on to say, "We will fully prepare for discussion on the bill at the National Assembly while at the same time coming up with various support measures, including financial support and tax incentives, in order to curb as much as possible the fee hike that might be caused by formalizing the informal domestic service market."