205,000 South Korean public workers to gain regular status
Government plans wage hikes and the introduction of other perks gradually in phases
By Kim Bo-eun
The South government says it will give 205,000 irregular workers in the public sector regular status by 2020.
This represents 65 per cent of 316,000 irregular workers in central and local governments, and state-invested public entities, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Of the irregular workers, 74,000 will get regular status this year.
The ministry unveiled the plan after completing a study into irregular workers at 853 public institutions nationwide.
“We must correct wrongful employment practises of abusing irregular workers by all means,” Vice Minister Yi Sung-ki said in a briefing at the Sejong Government Complex.
“We request the efforts of both labour and management ahead of the task of alleviating social polarisation and realising a society that respects workers,” he said.
Yi said the government has budgeted 123 billion won to cover the extra costs for the conversion.
However, their pay will not immediately be much different from current levels. Instead of raising wages and introducing other perks after the job status conversion, the government plans to do this gradually in phases.
Irregular workers account for 19.2 per cent of 2.17 million workers in the public sector.
The conversion to regular workers will apply to 205,000 contract workers who perform regular and continuous tasks. On the list of exemptions are those aged 60, part-time instructors and teachers at universities and schools, and English conversation instructors.
Among those subject to the conversion, contract workers account for 72,000 and indirectly hired workers 103,000.
Contract workers will be converted by early 2018 and workers hired through agencies by early 2020.
For contract positions subject to conversion, the most common position is office assistant, followed by researcher and medical care worker.
Among indirectly hired workers, cleaners account for the largest number, followed by facility managers and security guards.
To facilitate the conversions, the labour ministry will have teams comprised of professors, lawyers and labour-management dispute adjudicators providing consultation services.
As a means to encourage institutions to provide contract workers regular status, the government has newly included or increased the weight of such efforts in management evaluations of public institutions.
The government will also prevent public institutions from newly recruiting contract workers. The move is a follow-up to the guidelines on converting contract workers announced in July.