Korea to relax foreign worker employment requirements to ease labor shortage

2023.11.17 14:15:01 | 2023.11.17 16:07:26

[Photo by Han Joo-hyung]이미지 확대

[Photo by Han Joo-hyung]



Starting in 2024, South Korean companies will be able to hire foreign workers in the manufacturing, construction, and service sectors with severe labor shortages with more ease, as they will be allowed to hire foreigners after searching for domestic workers for seven days instead of the current 14. According to the government on Thursday, the Ministry of Employment and Labor issued a legislative notice of an amendment to the Enforcement Rule of the Act on the Employment of Foreign Workers, which will be in force until December 15. The change will be applied to foreign workers under the employment permit system who are entering the country in 2024, and the employment permit allows small and medium-sized enterprises unable to find domestic workers to hire foreign workers with a non-professional work visa, or E-9.

The amendment shortens the time during which manufacturing, construction, and service companies must make efforts to find a domestic worker before hiring foreign workers down to seven days from 14 days. Additionally, if a foreign worker changes jobs or leaves the workplace without permission for reasons not attributable to the employer within six months of entering the country, the employer will be exempted from the requirement to look for a domestic worker first to ease burdens of finding a replacement.

The requirement for obtaining a worker rehire permit has also been relaxed. Previously, the employer could obtain a rehire permit for a foreign worker a month or more before the expiry of the worker’s permit. The amendment, however, exempts foreign workers who have changed workplaces due to reasons outside their own responsibility, such as a workplace that is being closed or that has declared bankruptcy, and who have less than a month of employment left at their current workplace.

Meanwhile, measures to protect the rights and interests of foreign workers have been strengthened. Employment permits may be revoked if the type of accommodation written in the employment permit application is different from the one provided or if an unacceptable type of accommodation is offered. This measure comes as there has been several cases where foreign workers were provided with non-compliant accommodation after the employer acquired an employment permit by indicating “housing provided” or “no accommodation provided” on the employment permit application form. Administrative convenience has also been improved by assigning simplified names or abbreviations to complaint forms commonly used by foreign workers, such as applications for change of workplace, and displaying quick response (QR) codes to guide them on how to fill out the forms. The deadline for processing workplace changes has also been adjusted.

By Lee Jin-han and Choi Jieun

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