This past year, I consulted on the difficulties faced by many workers at work. Workers of small businesses with fewer than 100 employees were overwhelmingly more likely to receive consultations than workers from large corporations or public corporations that have well-equipped personnel and labor management systems and can be protected by the labor union.
The workers who requested counseling were arguing with the employer over the minimum wage and the use of annual leave and were suffering from workplace harassment. A new counseling feature was discovered this year, in that the number of irregular workers increased.
They did not belong to a single workplace, but were looking for work through the application and working. Amid the spread of the COVID-19 infectious disease, domestic workers and freelancers were not protected by the Labor Standards Act, severance pay, and even unfair dismissal were helpless.
The Labor Counseling Center of the Confederation of Trade Unions tried to convey the voices of pain and anger of those they encountered at the counseling site to the National Assembly and the government that make laws and systems. At the beginning of the year, the Non-regular Workers’ Committee of the Economic, Social and Labor Committee, belonging to the President, analyzed and reported cases of labor counseling at workplaces with fewer than 5 employees. Proposed legal and institutional improvements.
With the amendment of the Labor Standards Act, which was amended in July of this year, workers in private companies were able to recover lost public holidays. On July 7, the National Assembly amended Article 55 of the Labor Standards Act to require employers to guarantee to workers the public holidays stipulated in the Public Holiday Regulations (Public Office Holiday Regulations) as paid holidays. According to the law, starting this year, public holidays have become paid holidays in workplaces with 30 or more employees. As a result, in the case of workers working at private companies for which public holidays were not paid holidays, the number of paid holidays increases by up to 14 more days even with simple calculations compared to before. Assuming that the daily wage is 69,760 won based on the minimum wage (8,720 won), in the case of 14 days, about 1 million won in annual paid holiday allowance is given.
In addition, the revision of the Enforcement Decree of the Labor Standards Act made it possible to sanction workplace bullying by relatives of employers, which frequently occurs in small and medium-sized businesses, making important progress in protecting workers’ rights. The provisions on the prevention of workplace harassment of the Labor Standards Act stipulate the employer’s obligation to prevent workplace harassment. However, there was no other way to sanction if the employer directly harassed at the workplace or if a relative of the business owner used the superiority of the relationship to harass workers at the workplace. As of October 14, due to the revision of the Labor Standards Act, employers who bully at work and workers who are relatives of the employer will also be fined 10 million won or less for negligence. The employer’s spouse, blood relatives within the fourth degree, and relatives within the fourth degree correspond to the employer’s relatives. Imposing a fine for negligence on the offender is expected to ensure effectiveness in preventing workplace harassment.
In some occupations, laws were also enacted to protect workers on atypical platforms. Domestic workers whose main tasks are cleaning, laundry, cooking, raising children and caring for the elderly at home are rapidly spreading through internet platforms. However, they could not receive legal protection because Article 11 of the Labor Standards Act did not recognize ‘housekeepers’ as workers under the Labor Standards Act.
The Act on the Improvement of Employment of Domestic Workers (Household Workers Act), passed by the National Assembly on June 15, stipulates that organizations that hire domestic workers must comply with the minimum wage and purchase four major insurances. According to the relevant law, in accordance with the demand of users who need domestic workers on an hourly basis, in consideration of the environment of domestic workers with unstable employment, the provider must guarantee working hours of at least 15 hours per week, and guarantee paid weekly holidays and annual leave. .
There is still regret The details of the legislation and system improvement proposals proposed by the labor community are still running around the threshold of the National Assembly plenary session. The provisions of the Labor Standards Act, which include the provision of paid holidays and the prevention of workplace harassment, do not apply to workplaces with fewer than five employees. The Act on Punishment of Serious Accidents for the Safety of Workers (Severe Accident Punishment Act) also excludes workplaces with fewer than 5 employees.
Although we slander every day that our tax bills are not enough, the fact that the National Assembly and the government are in control of our food does not change. The tears and pain of countless workers who cried and angered over the phone receiver can eventually be stopped through laws and systems in the National Assembly, so in the coming new year, we must meet them again, persuade them, fight and solidarity.
Counseling Manager, Bucheon Labor Counseling Center, Korea Federation of Trade Unions ([email protected])