Law allows Korean employers to avoid holiday pay

February 12th, 2014 · Economy and Worklife, Legal news · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

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The number of “red days,” public holidays on which there is no work, total 67 this year.

You may think that you would receive extra holiday pay if you go into work on a holiday, but there many times that is not true.

On Seollal, Chuseok, and other holidays as well as national holidays and Christmas, you might not receive holiday pay even if you work.

This is because of the holiday clauses in the Labor Standards Act (근로기준법상).

Ha Song-yeon reports.


Ms. Mo, who has worked in a supermarket for over ten years, worked for three days over the most recent Seollal holiday.

She worked from ten in the morning to ten at night but was not given holiday pay.

<Tape recording> Supermarket employee (voice disguised): “I never like going in on a holiday. I want to spend time with my family… I feel like exploited which is making me depressed. That’s why I’m speaking so frankly.”

The Labor Standards Act specifies that workers are to be paid 1.5 times their regular pay, or receive extra holiday time, for working on what would otherwise be a paid holidays.

However, current law specifies that only one day a week, in addition to the May 1st Labor Day, are to be considered paid holidays.

Public holidays on which many citizens work are “official holidays,” that is, days when citizens don’t have to work because public servants don’t.

Whether an off day is to to be treated as a paid holiday is determined by a collective bargaining agreement.

That means that at 20% of businesses with at least 100 employees and the majority of small and medium enterprises do not give holiday pay because they have no such agreement.

The result is that not a few companies include compulsory annual vacation days with official holidays.

<Interview> Shin In-su (Attorney): “There is an urgent need for the Labor Standards Act to be reformed so that ordinary workers’ vacation time is treated the same as those in government service when it comes to legal holidays.”

 The government has so far declined to play the role of labor negotiator, so the complaints from workers in small businesses are only increasing.

This is Ha Song-yeon for KBS News.

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