• Amendment of the Act on the Protection, etc. of Fixed-Term and Part-Time Workers

On February 28, 2014, the National Assembly passed a bill to amend the Act on the Protection, etc. of Fixed-Term and Part-Time Workers (the “Amendment”) to be announced this month and come into effect six months later.  

The Amendment increases protection of fixed-term and part-time employees against discriminatory treatment by: (i) ordering treble damages as a punitive measure, (ii) expanding the scope of corrective measure to the entire workplace and (iii) requiring payment of overtime wages to part-time employees.

  1. Treble damages as punitive measure

In the event that an employer is found to have engaged in discriminatory treatment against fixed-term and parttime employees, the corrective measures currently in effect requires “improving working conditions. . . and making adequate monetary compensation” to compensate such employees for the amount of damages resulting from such discriminatory treatment.

The Amendment continues to require “improving working conditions (including corrective orders for rules of employment, collective bargaining agreement, and other structural improvements). . . and making adequate monetary compensation”; however, if there is “clear intent” in the discriminatory treatment of “repeated instances” of the discriminatory treatment, the employer must make a compensation of up to treble damages.   That is, if the fixed-term or part-time employee was subject to discriminatory treatment resulting in a loss of KRW 1 million, the employer may be required to pay up to KRW 3 million if clear discriminatory intent or repeated instances of discriminatory treatment is found.

  1. Expansion of the scope of corrective measure to the entire workplace

Currently, the Labor Relations Commission orders corrective measures to be applied to only the specific employee against whom discriminatory treatment had been found, even if there are other employees in similar roles or circumstances at the workplace.

Under the Amendment, if a corrective order has been determined, the Ministry of Employment and Labor may investigate the employer or the workplace to determine whether there are additional cases of discriminatory treatment against fixed-term and part-time employees and issue a corrective order in such case.   As such, even if the initial corrective order is issued against only one employee, the Ministry of Employment and Labor may make an investigation and issue a corrective order applicable to all similarly situated fixed-term and part-time employees at the workplace.

  1. Overtime wages to part-time employees

Under the current law, even if the employer requires a part-time employee to work in excess of the contracted hours, the employer was not required to pay the overtime wages as provided under Article 56 of the Labor Standards Act as long as the number of contracted and extended hours worked by the part-time employee did not exceed eight hours per day.

The Amendment requires the statutory overtime wages of 150% of ordinary wages even if the total number of hours worked is less than 8 hours per day. That is, under the current law, the employer did not have to pay overtime wages if a part-time employee works five hours of contracted work and three hours of extended work, as the employee did not work for more than eight hours. However, under the Amendment, the employer would be required to pay that employee overtime wages for the three hours of extended work in the same situation.