The Supreme Court held an en banc public hearing on the ordinary wage appellate litigation at 2PM on September 6.The hearing was broadcast real-time through the Supreme Court website, Naver, and the Korean Policy Broadcast (KTV).Throughout the hearing, the Supreme Court justices raised the following three central issues:
The first major issue was a discussion of the regularity requirement of the ordinary wage. The justices recognized that the employers’ argument that regular payments should be defined as payment within “one wage payment period” (i.e., within 1 month) presents a clear standard, while the criterion of one month period unilaterally set by employers has the potential to undermine the purpose of the law. On the other hand, with respect to the uniformity (fixed-amount) requirement, there were no expected in depth discussions regarding pro rata payment of bonuses to employees resigning or terminated within a bonus payment period, but instead a more specific discussion regarding uniformity of benefits payments conditioned on employment.
Secondly, the justices discussed whether the lawsuit, filed in spite of the agreement between the employers and the employees, contravenes the principle of good faith. In particular, the inquiry centered around (i) whether wage negotiations between the parties was made on the basis of the total amount, (ii) whether the labor union requested the bonuses to be included as part of the ordinary wage, (iii) which party named the title of ”bonus”, (iv) whether it can be deemed that there was an agreement to exclude bonuses from the ordinary wage when a company has no labor union.
Lastly, there was a detailed discussion of the social and economic impact, particularly regarding (i) the actual and detailed amount of the increased wages that will burden employers and (ii) whether there will actually be a virtuous cycle resulting in increased spending and tax revenues as a result of increased wages as argued by the employees.