On May 15, 2020, the government announced plans to improve its policies aimed at creating a fairer economy to support the fight against COVID-19. The announced plans include measures to strengthen rights of specially-engaged workers as below:
1. Strengthening fairness in terms and conditions of service contract provisions for specially-engaged workers
- The standard service agreement will be applied to the provision of services by those engaged in chauffeur work, express courier work, etc., and for those already subject to the standard agreement, such as insurance solicitors, the standard agreement will be improved.
- In addition, the government will provide relevant guidelines for companies receiving such services.
2. Extending Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage to specially-engaged workers
- While nine types of specially-engaged workers are currently covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance, the coverage will be extended to five more occupations, including “door-to-door salespersons,” “visiting inspectors of rental products,” “visiting tutors,” “home appliance service engineers,” and “truck owners.”
- The government will review possible strategies for improving policy, such as better standards for applying Workers’ Compensation Insurance to specially-engaged workers.
3. Clarifying the standards for interpreting specially-engaged workers’ labor rights
- Guidelines for determining the employee status of specially-engaged workers under the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act (the “Union Act”) will be published to help such workers establish and operate labor unions.
- The grounds for determining the employee status under the Union Act will be suggested in line with the following standards suggested by the Supreme Court in a case concerning home-study tutors (Supreme Court Decision 2015Du12598, June 15, 2018):
- Whether the service provider’s main source of income comes from a certain business operator;
- Whether the contents of the service agreement are unilaterally determined by a certain business operator;
- Whether the service provider provides services essential to a certain business operator’s business;
- Whether the relationship between the service provider and a certain business operator is continuous and exclusive;
- Whether the service provider is subject to a certain business operator’s supervision and management to a certain degree; and
- Whether the service provider’s income, including wages and salary, received from a certain business operator is in consideration for his/her service.
In addition to the aforementioned plans, there are ongoing discussions about protecting specially-engaged workers during the recent spread of COVID-19, such as applying unemployment insurance coverage to specially-engaged workers. Even though a bill regarding application of unemployment insurance to specially-engaged workers failed to pass in the 20th National Assembly (which ended in connection with the April 15 legislative elections), it is highly likely to be passed in the 21st National Assembly, whose term has recently begun. Furthermore, as seen in a case where a certificate of establishment of a labor union was recently issued to those engaged in maintenance services of rental products, such as water purifiers, there is a strong trend towards acknowledging the three basic labor rights for specially-engaged workers. Therefore, it is advisable that employers proactively prepare for these future developments.