In 1988, the country adopted the minimum wage system, which was designed to protect workers’ rights and interests. There has been a gradual increase in the statutory minimum wage, and the hourly minimum wage for 2018 was set at KRW 7,530. The country has also enacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, which prohibits employers’ gender discrimination in hiring, and the obligatory employment system for the disabled, which requires companies to hire workers with disabilities above a certain rate.
The country operates the social insurance system against contingencies relating to disaster, disease, unemployment, and death. Workers subscribe to Industrial Accident Insurance against work-related accident, disease or death. It is obligatory for all people to subscribe to the Health Insurance.
As of the end of 2016, 50.76 million people or 94.1% of the entire population enjoyed the benefits provided under the state-run health insurance system. The country’s medical insurance system, which provides a high-quality medical service for reasonable service fees, has been appraised as an exemplary case by other countries.
Workers subscribe to Employment Insurance. When a subscribed worker is dismissed, he/she is entitled to half of his/her wage for a given period of time and to job transfer training. Workers also subscribe to retirement pension and national pension plans.
In addition, workers are entitled to take childcare leave with a year’s partial pay. Pregnant employees are eligible for 90 days’ maternity leave before and after giving birth. Male employees are also allowed to request parental and childcare leave in relation to their wife’s delivery and childrearing. Since 2013, the government has provided childcare allowances for all children ages up to five years.
Elementary students are provided with the Dolbom (care) class service. The whole-day care program is to be expanded to all elementary school grades.
With the increase in the number of senior citizens, welfare for the elderly has emerged as an important social issue. To address this, the country adopted long-term care insurance for the elderly and the basic old age pension system.
In 2018, the government launched a new program named State Responsibility for Dementia, which lowers the financial burden for patients with severe dementia and covers the cost of dementia diagnoses made via neurocognitive tests and imaging (MRI, CT, etc.) and so on, through health insurance.
The Four Social Insurances
Relevant individuals, businesses, and the government share the burden of insurance premiums for the four social insurances.
In 2001, South Korea became the first country to launch a Ministry of Gender Equality; its name was later changed to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. It also covers policies for teenagers and multicultural families. In 2013, Park Geun-hye became the first woman President in South Korea’s 65-year history.
According to the 2015 Gender Inequality Index released by the UN Development Program, South Korea ranked 10th among 188 nations in terms of gender equality. President Moon Jae-in appointed women to more than 30% of the total number of ministerial positions in his cabinet, the highest in government history.
Copyright ©Photographer Lee Seong-u-Korea Tourism Organization