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Labor Law Amendments Regarding Collective Labor Relations and Other Employment-Related Issues to Watch for in 2021


The following is a summary of the labor law amendments to the Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act, Employment Insurance Act, Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act, and Wage Claim Guarantee Act effective between December 2020 and July 2021.

1.   Amendments to the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act (the “TULRAA”)

  • The proviso to sub-paragraph 4 (Ra) of Article 2 of the TULRAA, which was widely interpreted as the basis for restricting laid-off workers and others who are not employees of the company from joining enterprise (company-based) unions, has been deleted, allowing laid-off workers and others to join not only industrial, occupational and regional unions, but also enterprise (company-based) unions (Article 2 (1) and Article 2 (4) 4, to be enforced as of July 6, 2021). 

  • Nonetheless, officers and representatives of each enterprise union are required to be elected from among the members engaged in the business or working as employees (i.e., employee union members).  In addition, members who are not employees of the business or engaged in the business (i.e., non-employee union members) are allowed to engage in labor union activities only to the extent that they do not interfere with the efficient operation of the business (Article 17 (3), Article 23 (1) and Article 5 (2) and (3), to be enforced as of July 6, 2021). 

  • In addition, the regulation prohibiting compensation for full-time union officers was deleted.  However, while referring to those who are paid by the employer and are engaged in labor union activities as “time-off employees,” salary compensation can only be made within the time-off limit, and any violation thereof will be subject to punishment as an unfair labor practice (Article 24 and Article 81 (1) 4, to be enforced as of July 6, 2021). 

2.   Amendment to the Employment Insurance Act

  • Provisions have been added to allow service providers who are not employees to be covered by employment insurance (Article 77-6 to 10, to be newly established and enforced as of July 1, 2021).  The specific job categories eligible for employment insurance will be determined by a Presidential Decree.

  • Provisions have been added to allow certain artists prescribed by the Employment Insurance Act, upon obtaining employment insurance and satisfaction of certain requirements, to receive job-seeking (unemployment) benefits in the case of involuntary job change.  Furthermore, if an insured artist cannot provide services due to childbirth, or miscarriage or stillbirth, she can receive maternity benefits (Article 77-2, 3, and 4, to be newly established and enforced as of July 1, 2021).  

3.   Amendments to the Act on the Collection of Insurance Premiums for Employment Insurance and Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance

  • The law has been amended to temporarily operate a special reporting period regarding industrial accident insurance of employees in special types of employment, and if such an employee reports a valid insurance relationship within a certain period, he/she may be exempted from payment of all or part of the industrial accident compensation premiums (Article 22-3 and Article 22-4, amended and enforced as of January 5, 2021)

  • Provisions have also been added that cover an employer who has executed service provision contract with a service provider.  Such an employer is required to insure the service provider via employment insurance, and if a service provision platform business operator executes a service provision platform contract with the business owner of a service provision business, he/she is required to report it to the Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Service (the “KCOMWEL”), and to conduct withholding on the employment insurance contributions of the service provider and the service provision business owner (Article 48-3 and 4, to be newly established and enforced as of July 1, 2021). 

4.   Amendment to the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act 

  • This law has been amended so that a person who received medical care benefits can request confirmation from the KCOMWEL on whether his/her contribution is excluded from the scope of the medical care benefits, and receive the overpaid amount.  Furthermore, a spouse (including a common law spouse) or a relative closer than a first cousin of the business owner of a small or medium-sized enterprise, and who provides service for the business, may be insured upon the approval of the KCOMWEL (Article 31 (1) and Article 41-2, to be newly established, and Article 124 (2), to be enforced as of June 9, 2021).

5.   Amendment to the Wage Claim Guarantee Act 

  • Provisions have been added so that salaries during the maternity leave period are included in the scope of substitute payment (Article 2 (3) and Article 7 (2) 3, enforced as of December 8, 2020), and if necessary, employees (including retirees) can apply for loans through the Ministry of Employment and Labor for the cost of living, and the accounts to which the substitute payment has been paid can be protected from seizure (Article 7-2, Article 11-2, Article 14, Article 19, and Article 23, to be enforced as of June 9, 2021).


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