Dec. 12, 2018
The Minister of Employment and Labor, Mr. Lee Jae-kap, briefed the Ministry’s 2019 policy priorities to the President, the Prime Minister, members of political parties and government officials at the Ministry’s headquarters in Sejong on December 11th (Tue.). The Minister stressed that the Ministry would aim at creating an inclusive labor market by focusing on expanding job opportunities and decent jobs.
< Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL)’s policy priorities for 2019>
1. Enhancing support for vulnerable groups and creation of jobs tailored to different regions
① The government will increase the jobs-related budget by 19.3% from 19 trillion won in 2018 to 23 trillion won in 2019 to expand job opportunities for vulnerable groups.
MOEL will expand support and vocational training for vulnerable groups with a goal of raising their labor force participation rate from 36.3% in 2017 to 42% in 2019. Specifically, for vulnerable groups, the Ministry will directly create more jobs, expand vocational training and employment services, and increase financial support for the unemployed.
② In order to solve the jobs-related issues such as job-mismatch, regional governments, which are most knowledgeable about their local realities, will set their own job policies while the central government will provide enhanced support for them.
While regional governments will have greater autonomy in running their own locally-tailored job creation programs, the central government will strengthen coordination and cooperation with regional governments in terms of operating job creation programs for the youth and the new middle-aged, such as the Youth Job Search Allowance and the Jobs for New Middle-aged People with Experience.
③ MOEL will conduct employment impact assessments by industry to promote employment-friendly policies. The Ministry will also strengthen policy response and support in relation to the restructuring in major manufacturing industries, including the auto industry.
④ MOEL will support young people’s job-search activities and job retention through the Youth Job Search Allowance and the Mutual Aid Program for Youth (subsidies paid in lump sum for the employed youth after one to three years of employment), and strengthen the incentives for SMEs to hire young people through the 2+1 Youth Employment Subsidy (subsidies equivalent for one employee’s wage offered for the employer when newly hiring three young people).
⑤ MOEL will take measures for working women to ease the burden of childbirth and childcare and prevent them from falling through the cracks of employment insurance coverage.
Those who had not been entitled to maternity leave benefits under the employment insurance—temporary and daily workers, workers in special forms of employment and self-employed people—will, from 2019, receive a maximum of 1.5 million won in maternity benefits for 90 days.
Male workers whose spouse gave birth will enjoy a longer paternity leave, which is currently five days (paid 3 days + unpaid 2 days), of paid 10 days. Also, the government will provide financial support amounting to five day’s pay for male employees at SMEs who take a paternity leave.
⑥ MOEL will strengthen vocational training and employment services for people with disabilities. It will set up more training centers for people with developmental disabilities and training centers tailored for different types of disabilities. The Ministry will also provide active employment services for people with severe disabilities who have given up finding jobs.
⑦ MOEL will help the new middle-aged (people aged over 50) achieve “triple-cropping in life (a long-term job → a new job after retirement → a job for social contribution)” through new jobs after retirement. The Ministry will support the mandatory retirement age of 60 or above to take hold across workplaces, expand the subsidy for hiring people aged over 50, create jobs for new middle-aged people with experience, and support the engagement of the new middle-aged in social contribution activities.
2. Reducing working hours and helping the new minimum wage take hold across workplaces
① To ensure a soft landing of the shorter 52-hour per week working hours in workplaces, MOEL will encourage workplaces’ voluntary adaptation efforts through industry associations and support the efforts to discover and disseminate best practices in this regard.
② MOEL will step up guidance on minimum wage compliance.
In order to improve the minimum wage setting system in more rational, fairer and more socially acceptable ways, the Ministry will refine the criteria for minimum wage determination, considering international standards, such as those provided by the ILO, and improve the minimum wage setting mechanism.
In an effort to ease the cost burden on SMEs and micro-enterprises, the Ministry will expand the Job Stability Funds and the scope of those eligible for the Social Insurance Premium Subsidy.
3. Creating a non-discriminatory healthy workplace
① MOEL will take measures to eliminate abuse of power at work and payment delays.
The Ministry will make administrative and legislative efforts to set up a system to prevent and respond to harassment at work. While strengthening support for victims, it will also take strict actions, such as special labor inspections, against workplaces where violence or other socially unacceptable practices took place.
In order to eliminate gender-based discrimination, the Labor Relations Commissions will introduce a procedure for seeking remedies for such discrimination, and expand the scope of the law banning gender-based discrimination in employment to all workplaces.
The Ministry will also increase the maximum amount of financial support for workers who are owed wages so as to promptly and practically protect their livelihoods.
② The plan to convert public sector non-regular workers to regular status will be carried out as scheduled.
The Ministry will continue to expand labor inspections on discrimination against non-regular workers and provide guidance to workplaces to eradicate illegal use of dispatched workers. MOEL will aim at gradually spreading the public sector’s practice of hiring workers as regular employees to the private sector.
In order to eliminate hiring irregularities, the Ministry will promote the practice of blind hiring, conduct regular on-site monitoring and revise the Hiring Procedure Act.
③ In order to prevent industrial accidents, MOEL will amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act to for example expand the scope of workers protected by the Act and prevent outsourcing of dangerous work.
The Ministry will increase the number of cross-regional occupational safety inspection teams, which are exclusively in charge of conducting special inspections, from three teams to seven teams. Also, the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act (IACI Act) coverage will be expanded to workers in special forms of employment and self-employed persons without employees.
4. Pursuing inclusive and responsible social dialogue
① The Economic, Social and Labor Council (ESLC) was launched on November 22nd 2018, and sectoral sub-Committees in the ESLC are to start. The government will actively reflect discussion outcomes of the sub-Committees and disseminate win-win employment models for both workers and employers through social dialogue channels at the regional level.
② MOEL will pursue the ratification of the ILO core Conventions.
As regards the Conventions relating to freedom of association, discussion with workers’ and employers’ representatives will continue based on the proposal of the ESLC’s public interest members announced on November 20th 2018.
In regard to the Conventions relating to the prohibition of forced labor, the Ministry will set the ratification procedures into motion after consultation with relevant government agencies and review on whether amending relevant laws would be necessary.
5. Innovating employment services and extending and reinforcing the employment safety net
① Employment services at Job Centers will be strengthened.
The Ministry will reinforce integrated employment and welfare services to help welfare service recipients become self-reliant through work. It will also create standardized employment service certification criteria for private employment agencies to improve the quality of private employment services.
② Online employment services will become more sophisticated.
The Ministry will make online employment services more sophisticated, for example by building an AI-based job matching system, so that jobseekers can be matched to jobs that suit them best. At the same time, it will customize online employment services to meet the needs of jobseekers, thereby improving user convenience.
③ Efforts will be made to address blind spots in employment insurance.
The Ministry will push for an amendment to the Employment Insurance Act to extend employment insurance coverage to artists and workers in special forms of employment. It will also work to introduce an unemployment assistance scheme for the working poor.
④ Employment insurance will provide greater protection.
The duration of unemployment benefits will increase by another 30 days and the amount will rise from 50% to 60% of the average wage, and a job search promotion allowance for low-income people will be introduced.
6. Innovating vocational training to keep up with changes in the world of work
① MOEL will largely expand training on new technologies so that workers can adapt to changes which are taking place in the world of work as the fourth industrial revolution advances.
Smart factories have been increasing, and the Ministry will help workers switch to new job tasks. It will conduct a demand survey jointly with local governments and industry circles and then designate polytechnic colleges to operate as campuses specialized in vocational training to help workers to switch job tasks.
② MOEL will expand the Course-based National Technical Qualification (NTQ) System which assesses job competencies based on the record of education and training courses taken by workers, rather than through examinations to test the level of knowledge of workers. The Ministry is planning to increase the number of Course-based NTQs from 111 in 2018 to 143 in 2019.