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Labor & Employment

"They have a competitive advantage in terms of their excellent service and client-focused approach.
They are not just legal advisers but extended business partners."
– Chambers Asia-Pacific 2018

Overview

The Labor & Employment Practice of Kim & Chang, consisting of approximately 120 professionals with diverse capabilities and experience, is uniquely positioned to provide clients with the most effective representation on all aspects of human resources and industrial relations. 

Our Labor & Employment Practice provides a wide range of legal services, including labor and employment-related issues in mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs, organizational changes, and personnel management.  In particular, we advise our clients on (i) employment regulations and policies, such as employment contracts and work rules, (ii) individual employment issues, such as wages, working hours, pensions, recruitment and retirement, disciplinary actions, prevention of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment, (iii) labor relations issues, such as collective bargaining and labor-management councils, (iv) temporary workers and (v) implementation and reform of HR or wage systems in order to provide not only legal security to our clients, but also to assist in the operation and development of businesses and stabilization of labor-management relations.

We pride ourselves on being regularly ranked as the Top Labor and Employment Law Group in major legal publications such as Chambers Asia-Pacific and The Legal 500 Asia Pacific. 

Our Labor & Employment Practice’s attorneys focus on providing our clients with practical and to-the-point legal advice based on in-depth legal knowledge and experience related to a broad range of labor and employment issues.  We also utilize the expertise of specialists at our firm who are both within and outside our Labor & Employment Practice, providing a multi-disciplined approach enabling prompt and proactive solutions for our clients.

Key Servicesshow

Counseling and Compliance on General Employment Laws

Workplace challenges are diverse, ranging from day-to-day managerial activities to crisis management requiring immediate responses.  Clients seek our legal advice on a full spectrum of preventive and responsive employment legal challenges, including labor and employment issues in establishment of companies, mergers and acquisitions or spin-off contexts, organizational changes, the legal and practical implications of personnel management and HR strategies, and compliance with Korea’s numerous labor and employment rules and regulations.

 
  • Establishment of companies 
  • Mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs and integration after mergers and acquisitions
  • Organizational changes, optimal management of human resources and disciplinary actions process 
  • Statutory compliance matters 

 

Labor Relations

Our Labor & Employment Practice provides practical advice, based on accurate legal interpretation, to employers on labor relations issues, including in collective bargaining agreement negotiations, strategic issues, government mediation and crisis management in the event of labor disputes.  Understanding Korea’s complex and strict labor laws is critical to achieving legal compliance and minimizing exposure to risk of challenge.

 
  • Collective bargaining agreements and negotiation strategy
  • Labor disputes and crisis management
  • Labor-related regulations and compliance issues 

 

Employment Policies and Regulations

A well-designed and well-implemented employment policy is both vital for employee satisfaction and harmony and the first line of defense in any employment issue that may arise.  In this regard, we assist our clients by preparing or revising company Rules of Employment/Work Rules, codes of conduct, privacy policies and other personnel policies (e.g., implementing, hiring, and employment policies) in accordance with Korean law and practice.

 
  • Rules of Employment (i.e., work rules or employee handbooks)
  • Personnel system related to employment 
  • Code of conduct
  • Privacy policies

 

Employment and Performance Reviews

We draft, review and advise on employment offer letters/agreements, independent contractor/subcontractor/dispatch (i.e., temp agency) agreements, as well as non-competition, non-solicitation, confidentiality, non-disclosure, severance and separation agreements.  We also provide services related to leadership training, performance improvement plans and performance reviews. 

 
  • Letters/agreements related to employment 
  • Performance reviews and performance improvement plans 
  • Leadership evaluation and training 

 

Working Hours, Compensation and Benefits

Working hours and employee compensation and benefits are another multi-faceted and complex area of employment law in which our attorneys and experts have great expertise and experience.  Our firm offers an integrated team of experts who have an accurate understanding of the laws and extensive experience and who can provide practical and legal advice on all relevant aspects of a compensation and benefits package to ensure that the interest of the company and its employees/officers are best served.

 

We also provide our clients with advice on tax and foreign exchange implications of compensation and benefits by working with specialists outside the Labor & Employment Practice. 

 
  • Compensation, retirement benefits and benefits of employees and executives 
  • Improvement of wage system 
  • Management and improvement of working hour system
  • Tax and foreign exchange implications of compensation and benefits 

 

Internal Investigations and Government Audits

Our Labor & Employment Practice offers systematic guidance on internal investigations (and disciplinary processes) and dispute resolutions covering employee misconduct including allegations of sexual harassment, fraud, embezzlement and trade secret violations.  In addition, we advise our clients on preparation for routine governmental labor and employment audits and on how to proactively minimize the potential exposure prior to such audits.

 

  • Internal investigations and dispute resolution process
  • Governmental audits

 

Administrative Proceedings and Litigation

Our Labor & Employment Practice consists of not only experienced attorneys but also former judges, prosecutors, and MOEL officials who understand all sides and facets of a dispute.  Therefore, the combined experience and legal knowledge we have accumulated as counselors and advisors in these particular areas of the Korean labor and employment law allows us to effectively resolve disputes and be more responsive to clients’ needs when representing them before the Korean labor authorities and courts in case of disputes, while it is best to resolve labor-management disputes through dialogue and compromise. 

 
  • Disputes related to unfair disciplinary actions and unfair dismissals 
  • Disputes related to labor standards violations (e.g., wages and working hours) 
  • Mediation and disputes in the labor relations commissions and courts 

 

Education and Training

Our Labor & Employment Practice provides compliance education as well as more comprehensive training programs which address key labor and employment (legal and non-legal) issues relevant to a company’s operations.

 
  • Statutorily required education, such as sexual harassment prevention education, occupational safety and health education, educational program to promote disability awareness and personal information protection education. 
  • Compliance education 
  • Cooperative labor relations training

Key Experiencesshow

In-house Subcontracting Litigation
  • Successfully represented a defendant tire manufacturer in a landmark case filed by in-house subcontracted workers, where the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the in-house subcontracting arrangement for a manufacturing process was not an illegal dispatch arrangement.

 

Ordinary Wage Litigation
  • Successfully presented a new argument on the “fixed” nature of ordinary wage and principle of good faith in a landmark ordinary wage case, where the Supreme Court rendered a favorable ruling for the company. As a result of this decision, it is expected that many corporations can reduce their labor costs by billions of Korean Won. 

 

Improving Corporate Competitiveness
  • Advised a global financial company in connection with its workforce restructuring and improvement of its severance pay system. 

  • Supported communication and negotiations with union, enabling the client to successfully turn around its business without triggering any major labor dispute.

 

Litigation Support
  • Successfully represented a manufacturing company in a wrongful termination claim arising out of workforce restructuring efforts and unilateral employee terminations for “urgent business necessity.”

 

M&A-related HR Issues
  • Successfully advised a multinational corporation in a sale of a Korean subsidiary in crisis. 
  • Advised the client on various legal and HR issues and ensured that labor and management reached an agreement on those issues, such as reduction of labor costs through workforce restructuring and amendment to the collective bargaining agreement. 

 

Integration and HR Policy Reform
  • In connection with a multinational client’s integration with a local company, assisted the client in integrating the local company’s HR policies with its global HR policies.  This new HR system enabled the local company to significantly improve its business performance.

 

Internal Investigations and Improvement of Internal Procedures
  • Supported a client’s internal investigation regarding employee misconduct, verified the facts of employee misconduct, and advised on the appropriate disciplinary action.

  • Also assisted the client in improving its internal procedures based on the investigation.

 

Criminal Liability in Unfair Labor Practice Case
  • Represented a company charged with unfair labor practice related to the establishment of a labor union, and minimized the criminal liability by proving that each relevant act was not an unfair labor practice. 

 

Productivity Enhancement
  • Advised a large manufacturing company on issues related to plant operations, and helped develop a system aimed at improving productivity and efficiency.

  • Also assisted in the implementation stages, resulting in an improvement in productivity.

 

Performance Evaluations and Training for Executives
  • Assisted a large Korean manufacturing company in evaluating its executives and prospective executives, and utilized the results to restructure and reposition the executives.

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