Korean government to launch pilot project that expands foreign housekeepers

2023.05.25 11:51:01 | 2023.05.25 13:54:20

A housekeeper agency in Seoul [Photo by Kim Ho-young]이미지 확대

A housekeeper agency in Seoul [Photo by Kim Ho-young]

The South Korean government is expected to launch a pilot project in the second half of this year that involves the hiring of foreign housekeepers as a measure to address the country’s chronic low birth rate.

According to multiple sources from the government circle on Wednesday, the Ministry of Employment and Labor will come up with a detailed plan for the pilot project by June and begin to implement the plan with the Seoul Metropolitan Government later this year.

Under the current law, housekeepers may only work in Korea when they hold an F-2 resident visa, F-4 overseas Korean visa, F-5 permanent residency visa, F-6 marriage migrant visa, or H-2 working visit visa.

Among them, H-2 visa holders are required to report to the local immigration and alien affairs offices before starting work. If employers are caught hiring foreigners that are not eligible to work in the country, they are subject to punishment of up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 20 million won ($15,162), according to the country’s immigration control act.

The government plans to revise the current law to expand the domestic housekeeper market to E-9 visa holders for non-professional employment to meet growing demand for foreign domestic helpers.

The employment ministry plans to swiftly carry out a survey on the domestic situation, hold a public hearing to collect public opinion, and decide on the size of the pilot project and on where to bring foreign domestic workers to the country.

“Since it is the first time introducing the foreign housekeeper system, it is necessary to collect public opinion first,” said an official from the Employment Ministry.

The ministry will also work out measures to minimize the adverse effects from expanding the scope of foreign domestic workers. The ministry plans to hire foreign workers with proven Korean language skills and make sure to provide labor management and verified labor service according to a standard service agreement.

The ministry also plans to allow foreign domestic workers to change their workplaces if they find it difficult to continue to work for reasons or injuries that they are not responsible for, such as termination or expiration of the labor contract, workplace suspension or closure, violation of working conditions or unfair treatment by employers.

Experts note that foreign domestic helpers are not able to completely resolve low birth rate and women’s career interruption issues but they say that the government’s plan should first win public support if it seeks to introduce foreign housekeepers in the market.

The government believes that foreign housekeepers may reduce women‘s career breaks and lead them back to work.

According to data from Statistics Korea, 1.4 million women aged between 15 and 54 stopped working after tying the knot last year due to pregnancy, childbirth, child education, and family care. Around 17 percent of Korean women experience a career break following their marriage.

By Lee Jin-han, Park Dong-hwan, and Yoon Yeon-hae

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]