Korea to allow 100 Filipino domestic helpers into Seoul

2024.02.28 09:43:02 | 2024.02.28 09:54:42

[Photo by MK DB]이미지 확대

[Photo by MK DB]

The South Korean government will launch a pilot project as early as June 2024 that involves hiring 100 Filipino domestic helpers in Seoul, paving the way for foreign workers to officially work in the domestic household sector as a measure to address the country’s chronic low birth rate.

According to sources from relevant ministries on Tuesday, the Korean government will launch a pilot project for foreign housekeepers as early as June 2024. The main goal is to supply 100 Filipino helpers to households across Seoul by the end of 2024.

Once the pilot project begins, working couples in their 20s to 40s, single-parent households, and multi-child households residing in Seoul will be eligible to hire Filipino housekeepers who can either work full-time or part-time and commute from home. The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to allocate 150 million won ($112,570) to support their accommodation, transportation, translation fees, and other expenses.

The foreign housekeepers will be paid the minimum wage and if the country’s 2024 minimum wage of 9,860 won per hour is applied, the monthly salary for Filipino housekeepers is expected to be around 2.06 million won.

In this regard, industry observers call for the minimum wage for foreign housekeepers to be differentiated from that of Korean domestic helpers. They argue that being able to hire at a lower cost would provide practical assistance in achieving the original purpose of the system, which is to address low birth rates. They also suggested that the government and local authorities should produce measures to reduce the financial burden for each household.

“Establishing a wage payment system for foreign housekeepers is a significant issue,” a government official said. “The Minimum Wage Commission is expected to focus on this matter once it convenes.”

But the current Korean law makes it impossible to apply different minimum wages based on nationality. The country’s Labor Standards Act prohibits wage discrimination based on nationality, social status, and other factors, which necessitates legal amendments to set a different minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers.

Additionally, Korea is a signatory to International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 111, which prohibits discrimination in employment and occupation and makes it challenging to apply different wages, which is currently only possible on an industry-specific basis.

For this reason, the Minimum Wage Committee, which sets the minimum wage, cannot officially engage in discussions on differentiating the minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers.

By Lee Hee-jo, Lee Yoon-sik, and Yoon Yeon-hae

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