Labor regulations & social security

Unemployment, illness, maternity etc.

Labor regulations & social security

Before the Asian economic crisis in 1997, many aspects of the current National Pension Plan were inexistent. Since then, the Korean government has worked to accommodate workers with disability, illness, unemployment and infants and bettered the lives of many Korean employees and employers.

Luckily, recent advancements in the social security system have made is possible for foreigners to receive similar protection. Below you will find information on current regulations concerning unemployment, maternity leave, disability and illness.


The sharp rise in unemployment following the Asian financial crisis revealed the dire need for some type of insurance to benefit the jobless. Today, such benefits exist for both Korean nationals and foreigners. There are two types of unemployment benefits:

  • Job-Seeking Allowance and
  • Employment Promotion Allowance

Both types require a person to be involuntarily unemployed and to have worked at least 180 days within 18 months before unemployment. The amount of benefit is normally 50% of daily wage which is calculated by dividing the salary of the 3 month period before unemployment by the number of days worked in that same period.

If the benefits calculated end up being less than 90% of minimum wage, the recipient will receive the 90% of minimum wage as the base pay. Your age and total contributions to the Employment Insurance System will effect the duration of unemployment benefit from 3 to 8 months.

Maternity Leave

The recent updates on Korean labor laws have improved conditions for women and men wishing to take time off to look after young children. “Childcare leave” allows a mother or her spouse to take off up to one year to look after an infant (under one year of age). It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a recipient of “childcare leave” and the time off must be included in the total service period of the employee.

In addition to childcare leave, an employer is obligated to provide adequate nursing facilities to accommodate the working mother/father. Such “childcare facilities at work” should ease the process of activities like breast-feeding, diaper-changing, and day nursing. These facilities are meant to encourage the continuous employment of workers who have returned from childcare leave.

Illness and Disability

The Social Security Agreement allows those who become disabled while in Korea, under the coverage of a separate country's pension program, to apply for disability pension. Depending on which country you are from, there may be a minimum coverage period you need to achieve before you are eligible to apply. For example, the minimum coverage periods for residents of Canada and the U.S. are 12 months and 18 months, respectively.

Further reading

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