South Korea

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Country Snapshot

The GPS Country Snapshot includes 25 sections of information about labor law compliance in South Korea. See a sample of popular sections below.

Termination of Employment

According to South Korea's labor law, when an employer intends to dismiss an employee (including dismissal for business reasons unrelated to the employee's conduct), the employer must give the employee a notice of dismissal of at least 30 days. If the employer fails to give such advance notice, the employer must pay that employee their ordinary wages for no less than 30 days. The notice requirement does not apply where a natural disaster, calamity, or other unavoidable circumstance prevents the continuance of the business, where the employee has caused a considerable hindrance to the business, or where the employee has intentionally inflicted damage to the employer's property.

Employers are not required to provide notice to the following employees:

  • An employee employed daily, who has been employed for less than 3 consecutive months
  • An employee who has been employed for a fixed period not exceeding 2 months
  • An employee who has been employed for less than 6 months as a monthly paid employee
  • An employee who has been employed for any seasonal work for a fixed period not exceeding 6 months
  • An employee on a probationary period

Work Permits

The Immigration Service of South Korea does not provide work permits per se, but work status is determined by visas.

Foreign nationals must generally obtain the appropriate visa before they enter South Korea for business or work purposes. Employers may not use or employ foreigners who do not have proper work visas.

There are 36 types of visas, nine of which are related to the visa-holders' employment. The visas fall into the general categories of business and employment visas.

There are four types of business visas:

  • Temporary business visas (C-3 visas)
  • Intra-company transfer visas (D-7 visas)
  • Corporate investments (D-8 visas)
  • Trade management visas (D-9 visas)

The D-7 visa is the most common visa for a foreign national employed by a foreign company or a foreign company's subsidiary. 

Employment visas are issued to foreign nationals who wish to be directly employed by a South Korean company:

  • C-4 visas are for foreign nationals working for the South Korean employer for 90 days or less.
  • There are four other employment visas issued only to foreign nationals taking high-skilled work: research (E-3), technology consulting (E-4), licensed profession (E-5), and specially designated activities (E-7).

Paid Annual Leave

Per South Korea's Labor Standards Act, employers must grant pregnant female employees a total of 90 days of paid maternity leave (120 days in case of a pregnancy with more than one child), which can be used before or after childbirth. Compensation is funded by the employer for 60 days, while the remaining 30 (or 45 days in case of a pregnancy with more than one child) days are paid from the Employment Insurance Fund, a state-run fund established by the Ministry of Employment and Labor.

The 90 days of statutory leave include holidays and Sundays. In addition, at least 45 days must be used after childbirth (but where more than 45 days were spent before birth, an employer must allow 45 days of maternity leave after childbirth). Any period over the statutorily prescribed 90 days need not be considered paid leave. Although certain limitations exist, maternity leave must be allowed for premature births, miscarriages, and stillbirths.

Under the Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act, up to 1 year of unpaid leave is provided a parent with a child up to age 8.

Working Hours

Per the amended Labor Standards Act of South Korea, standard work hours are 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day. An employer can extend work hours in a particular week or day according to the employee's contract. However, the average work hours per week during a specific period (of not more than 2 weeks) must not exceed 40 hours, and work hours in any particular week shall not exceed 52 hours or 12 hours a day.

Maternity Leave

Per South Korea's Labor Standards Act, employers must grant pregnant female employees a total of 90 days of paid maternity leave (120 days in case of a pregnancy with more than one child), which can be used before or after childbirth. Compensation is funded by the employer for 60 days, while the remaining 30 (or 45 days in case of a pregnancy with more than one child) days are paid from the Employment Insurance Fund, a state-run fund established by the Ministry of Employment and Labor.

The 90 days of statutory leave include holidays and Sundays. In addition, at least 45 days must be used after childbirth (but where more than 45 days were spent before birth, an employer must allow 45 days of maternity leave after childbirth). Any period over the statutorily prescribed 90 days need not be considered paid leave. Although certain limitations exist, maternity leave must be allowed for premature births, miscarriages, and stillbirths.

Under the Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act, up to 1 year of unpaid leave is provided a parent with a child up to age 8.

Minimum Wage

Effective January 1, 2023, the minimum wage is  KRW 9,620 won per hour. 

Apprentices who have been in apprenticeship for less than 3 months are excluded from the minimum wage.

Country Profile

The GPS Country Profile contains detailed information on over 60 topics related to labor law compliance within South Korea.
  • Type of Employment Relationship
  • Permanent Employment
  • Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts
  • Temporary Employment Contracts
  • Part-time Employment
  • Young Worker Employment
  • Vendors and Independent Contractors
  • Types of Contracts
  • Probationary Period
  • Termination of the Contract of Employment
  • Grounds for Termination
  • Notice of Dismissal
  • Fair Dismissal
  • Redundancy
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Suspension of Contract of Employment
  • Severance Benefits
  • Hours of Work
  • Work Week and Timekeeping
  • Night Work and Shift Work
  • Overtime
  • Remote Work
  • Required Time Off
  • Public Holidays
  • Annual Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Maternity
  • Other Forms of Leave
  • Social Insurance and Retirement
  • Social Security Contribution
  • National Retirement Scheme
  • Dependents’/Survivors Benefit
  • Life and Disability Insurance/Benefit
  • Statutory Allowances
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Minimum Wage (Basic Wage)
  • Bonuses, Profit Sharing and Other Compensation
  • Medical Insurance
  • Work Environment
  • Workplace Safety and Health
  • Prohibition of Discrimination
  • Prohibition of Harassment
  • Data Protection and Privacy
  • Whistleblowers and Retaliation
  • Workers’ representation in the organization
  • Freedom of Association
  • Registration and Recognition of Unions
  • Trade Union Personality
  • Collective Bargaining and Agreements
  • Disputes and Settlements
  • Strikes and Lockouts
  • Unfair Labor Practices
  • Taxation of Compensation and Benefits
  • Income Tax
  • Taxation of Employee Benefits
  • Tax Filing and Payment Procedures
  • Double Tax Relief and Tax Treaties
  • Visas and Work Permits
  • Visas
  • Work Permits and Residence Permits

 Country Snapshot

Get the full Country Snapshot with 25 sections of information about labor law in South Korea.