On March 24, 2014, additional amendments to the Labor Standards Act (“LSA”) were promulgated and came into effect. The key aspects of the amendments include decreased requirements for the notice of termination and shortened working hours of pregnant employees.

  1. Decreased requirements for the notice of termination

Under the LSA, when an employer wishes to terminate an employee, the employer must give written notice of the cause and date of the termination (Article 27(1) of the LSA).

The newly inserted Article 27(3) of the amended LSA reduces the notification burden of the employers by providing that if the employer had already provided a 30 day advance written notice of termination specifying the cause and date of termination, the employer will be deemed to have provided a notice of the cause of termination required under Article 27(1) of the LSA, thereby eliminating the confusion as to whether the employer who had provided such advance written notice would be required to provide another written notice at the time of termination. However, the question regarding the specificity required of the stated cause of termination remains unresolved even under the amended LSA.

The amended Article 27(3) of the LSA will apply to cases of termination that are first notified on and after the effective date, March 24, 2014.

  1. Increased protection of pregnant employees

Article 74 of the LSA provides several mechanisms to protect pregnant employees, including maternity leaves and prohibition of overtime work.

The amended LSA provides additional protection to pregnant employees by requiring employers to grant reduction of daily working hours by two hours or less upon such request by pregnant employees within the first 12 weeks of following the first 36 weeks of pregnancy and prohibiting the employer from reducing the wages of the pregnant employee on grounds of such reduction of working hours, provided that if the pregnant employee works less than eight hours per day, she may reduce the working hours to as low as six hours per day (Articles 74(7) and (8) of the LSA). An employer in violation of these provisions may face an administrative fine of up to KRW 5 million. The amended Articles 74(7) and (8) of the LSA will come into effect after six months from the date of promulgation for employers or workplaces with 300 or more full-time employees and after two years from the date of promulgation for employers or workplaces with less than 300 full-time employees.