Feb. 12, 2017
On February 13th (Mon.) the Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) announced that starting in March, it would conduct programmed inspections of more than 100 workplaces in the IT industry to find violations of labor laws, such as working long hours.
Violations of labor laws related to working conditions frequently occur in industries, such as IT, where multi-layer subcontracting is prevalent. Considering this, Employment and Labor Minister Lee Ki-kweon ordered late last year that bottom-up labor inspections be carried out in those industries during the first half of 2017 after a fact-finding survey.
Following his order, MOEL conducted a paper-based survey of 89 workplaces* in the IT industry from December 2016 to February 2017.
*software development and supply companies (including game companies), computer programming companies, system integration and management companies, etc.
And then it additionally carried out an in-person survey of 16 workplaces. Through the fact-finding survey, MOEL grasped the structure of transactions between principal contractors and subcontractors and the actual state of working conditions, including wages and working hours, in those workplaces.
According to the results of the survey, there are many cases in which subcontractors' workers face poor conditions in terms of wages, fringe benefits, working hours, etc.
And some workplaces appear to be engaging in illegal use of dispatched workers*.
* cases where a principal contractor makes a contract with a subcontractor perfunctorily and then the latter only supplies its workers to the former and the former is directly responsible for directing and supervising the latter's workers
In the case of the game industry, pressure to cut prices has sharply increased as Chinese companies have recently made inroads into the domestic market.
In addition, the industry's focus on mobile games has shortened the time it takes to develop a new game and increased real-time maintenance and repair, which has led to very poor working conditions, such as the widespread practice of working long hours.
During the programmed inspections scheduled to begin in March, MOEL will inspect principal contractors and subcontractors in the IT sector with regard to the whole range of matters regulated by labor laws to find violations of basic employment standards, discrimination against non-regular workers (dispatched or fixed-term workers) and illegal use of dispatched workers through multi-layer subcontracting.
In particular, as for the game industry which is becoming an issue, inspections will focus on whether workplaces violate the limits on hours of work and whether they pay overtime allowances.
*whether workplaces violate the limits on hours of work, such as weekday overtime work and holiday work, whether workplaces grant hours of rest, whether workplaces pay overtime allowances, whether workplaces grant annual paid leave, etc.
If any violation is found as a result of the inspections, MOEL will order the relevant workplace to correct it. Even in cases where there is no violation, it will actively advise principal contractors to play their role in improving the working conditions of workers in the IT sector.
Chung Hyoung-woo, the Director-General of the Labor Standards Policy Bureau, said, "Labor inspections to be conducted this time will serve as an opportunity to change bad labor practices which are widespread across the IT industry."
He went on to say, "If large IT firms take the lead in reducing long working hours, it is expected to have positive repercussions across many subcontractors."
He also emphasized, "Starting with the IT sector, MOEL will successively carry out inspections in the cement, car, electronic component manufacturing and other vulnerable industries within this year."