Ask Korea Law

Published by Chung & Partners


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[Q&A: Labor Law] As an English Teacher in Korea, Am I Entitled to a Severance Payment, Even Though My Contract Doesn’t Provide It?

Q) I am on an F2 visa and teaching for 28 months at the same school. The contract between myself and the owner is basically a few written lines, just mention salary and final teaching date. There is no mentioning of severance payment. According to the labor law, am I entitled to severance payment even though it is not mention in a short contract?

A) If and to the extent that you are legally regarded as an employee under Korean labor law, you are entitled to a severance payment under Korean labor law.

The term employee under the Korean labor law is someone who provides labor pursuant to his or her employer’s instructions or directions in exchange for wage compensation.  The important factors for classifying someone as an employee are, Continue reading


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[Q&A: Labor Law] Is There a Legally Binding “40 Working Hour a Week Limit” in Korea?

Q) Please could you clean up this question that nobody seems to be willing to answer. Is there a legally binding 40 working hour a week or not in Korea?

A) Yes, there is a 40-work-hours clause in Korean labor law.

The Labor Standard Act of Korea provides that “Work hours shall not exceed 40 hours a week, excluding hours of recess”.

However, in case of workers who are not less than eighteen years of age and women workers who are not in pregnancy, an employer and a workers’ representative can legally agree to extend work hours in excess of 40 hours a week to the extent that Continue reading


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[Q&A] Can an Employer Ban Its Employee from Having an Additional Job under Korean Labor Law?

Basically Korean labor Law doesn’t regulate employee’s having concurrent and/or additional job.  However, most employment agreements(EA) prohibit employees from having additional jobs.  So there have been many cases where employers fire employees based on his or her breach of prohibition of additional job clause in EA.

In this regard, the court’s standpoint is that as having additional job is a matter of privacy Continue reading


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Severance Payment or Retirement Pension? When You’re Working for Korean Private School

Recently I got an email question from a foreign teacher working for a Korean private university.  He’s wondering why the university is insisting on retirement pension plan instead of severance payment.

There is an act called Pension for Private Teachers and Staff Act(PPTSA) in Korea, which regulates severance payment issues in private school.  As a matter of law, PPTSA is applied prior to the GWRBA(Guarantee of Workers’ Retirement Benefits Act) and it allows the private schools to set a retirement pension plan for its employees instead of severance payment.

With respect to the relationship between the employment contract and the pension plan under PPTSA, Private Universities usually, pursuant to the PPTSA, put the retirement pension clauses, instead of severance payment, in the Rules of Employment(RE) of its own.  As a matter of law, the RE is applied to all the workers in a workplace.  That means, if there exists Continue reading


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Severance Payment Plan & Retirement Pension Plan under Korean Labor Law, and Government’s Proposal to Amend Current Sevrance Payment System

Recently we got a question from a gentleman asking what the exact meaning of the below, an Internet post he’d found:

“It is possible that as of 2011, what was severance pay will be vested in the country’s pension plan. This means that workers (including teachers, etc.) will no longer receive one month’s pay for every year worked at the end of their contract. The legislation is set to discuss/vote on this in 2009.”

He was worrying that he might lose his right of severance payment under Korean law.  But the above article is quite misleading.  The severance payment is the property right of workers.  It can not be vested to anything without workers’ consents.  If the article says the amended law will give the employer or any party but the workers the power to vest the severance payment to country’s pension plan (or whatever) without workers’ consents, it definitely violates Continue reading


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Introduction to the Severance Payment Under Korean Labor Law

We’ve been frequently asked about the severance payment under Korean labor law.  Basically, the severance payment is being regulated by the Guarantee of Workers’ Retirement Benefits Act(“GWRBA”), not by Labor Standard Act(“LSA”).  (Some Korean law related sites refer to LSA as it regulates the severance payment matters, but it is not correct).  GWRBA provides for the minimum amount of severance payment which the employer shall be required to pay to a retiring or resigning employee.

With that said, then what is the statutory severance payment under GWRBA?  Under GWRBA, an employee is entitled to receive a severance payment at the rate of 30 days’ “average wage” for each “continuous year of service.”  Of course, this is the statutory minimum amount of the severance pay.

In calculation of the “average wage”, a base salary and other payments such as overtime payment, position allowance, incentive allowance paid to all employees to Continue reading


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Having No Working Visa Does Not Mean You Have No Right Under Korean Civil and Labor Law

Recently a foreigner asked some questions to us regarding Korean employment law issues.  He has a problem in his Visa status here in Korea and the employer refused to pay some amount to him, a matter of quite frequent occurrence here in Korea, which I’m afraid of though.

Basically foreigners have the same rights as Koreans under Korean civil and/or labor law. Even though the employee does not  have a valid working Visa, it does not hinder him or her from executing his or her right under Korean law.

If the company has no justifiable cause to withhold the money earned by the employee, it constitutes a breach of contract and/or an unlawful act.  The employee can file a lawsuit against the company or put a provisional attachment on its assets.

Please note, however, that the company could threaten the employee saying “Unless you keep quiet, I’ll inform the Immigration office of your illegal stays in Korea and make you expelled!” as is often the case with vicious small entrepreneur in Korea.  Practically it is the primary reason that makes many foreigners working without visa hesitate to take legal Continue reading