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Korean government takes steps to protect foreign workers

February 11th, 2007 . by Matt

The Manila times reports that the Korean government has enacted laws to protect foreign workers.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) hailed Saturday the passage of three new laws in South Korea aimed at protecting foreign workers from abuse and exploitation.

“In behalf of the Philippine government and the families of OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] in South Korea, I express my deep appreciation of the Korean government’s efforts to protect non-regular workers many of whom are foreigners including OFWs in South Korea,” Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said.

Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Seoul, Brion said the new labor laws and the latest jurisprudence would benefit overseas OFWs including those who entered South Korea as industrial trainees.

Seoul-based Labor Attaché Rodolfo Sabulao said the three new laws that would take effect on July 1 are the Contractual and Part-time Worker Protection Act, Dispatched Worker Protection Act and the New Labor Relations Act.

The Contractual and Part-time Worker Protection Act provides that an employer may hire contract workers for two years or less, and that any contractual employed for more than two years would be considered as full-time worker with an open-ended contract.

The employers are also prohibited from requiring part-time workers to work beyond contracted work hours without their consent. Employers are also not allowed to discriminate contract workers against regular workers who are engaged in the same type of work.

Contract workers who suffered from discrimination in terms of wages and other benefits may file a complaint with the Labor Relations Commission.

The Dispatched Worker Protection Act reinforces the employers’ obligation not to discriminate against dispatched or temporary workers supplied by staffing agencies. Dispatched workers who are employed for more than two years should be hired directly.

Violating employers would be penalized with a fine of up to 30 million won, or about P1.5 million.

The New Labor Relations Act establishes the Commission for Discrimination Correction as an entity of the Labor Relations Commission tasked to handle workers complaint of discrimination.

These actions come after last years introduction of Korean language tests that the government and activists hope will reduce cultural friction and help foreign workers stick up for their legal rights.

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