Korea’s new government has made labor reform a centerpiece of its agenda, and it has already managed to move significant amendments to several of Korea’s major employment-and-labor statutes though the National Assembly. The Minimum Wage Act was amended as of September 19, 2017; the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act was amended as of October 24, 2017; and now a package of amendments to several major employment-and-labor statutes has passed into law as of November 28, 2017.

These amendments will, once they become effective, make significant changes to a variety of laws. Perhaps most significantly, these amendments will:

(i) significantly expand employers’ positive obligations regarding sexual harassment, requiring things like a prompt and thorough investigation into the facts, protective measures for the victim, and consideration of the victim’s views before taking action against a perpetrator; and

(ii) significantly change the way that annual leave accrues in the first year of service, converting year-one paid annual leave into an independent entitlement rather than merely an advance on year-two annual leave.

All employers should be aware of these recent amendments and ensure that they carefully comply with them so as to avoid criminal and administrative penalties, and civil liability.

We particularly recommend that employers ensure they have in place a sexual-harassment-complaint manual with clear procedures for effectively and timely handling sexual-harassment cases in accordance with the new legal regime; and that they implement proper sexual-harassment-prevention training that educates employees in those procedures. Companies should also consider measures such as designating a person in charge of handling employee grievances, and creating a cyber-report center as a channel through which employees can safely report sexual-harassment-related matters.

Amending workforce policies on annual leave may also be necessary, to account for the change to year-one accrual.