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Gov't calls for prudent implementation of labor reform

All News 17:00 January 28, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- The labor minister on Thursday asked large companies to be cautious in implementing new labor guidelines announced by the government last week.

Under the guidelines, companies can fire "noticeably" underperforming workers and amend their employment rules more easily.

Currently, companies can terminate an employee's contract only when they are either involved in corruption or an embezzlement case, or when they have to lay off workers due to serious financial difficulties. Management must also first get consent from labor unions to change the rules in a way unfavorable to employees.

"Firing workers who are noticeably underperforming is a last resort which can only be accepted when it follows related laws," Lee Ki-kweon, minister of employment and labor, said in a conference with the chief human resources officers (CHOs) of 30 major South Korean firms.

The minister said companies should not abuse the guidelines by distorting or interpreting them arbitrarily.

Lee also said the amendment of employment rules should fundamentally be based on agreement between labor and management, and those changed without consent from the workers will only be accepted when workers clearly refuse to go through consultation.

"Employees who belong to the bottom 10 percent should be subject to dismissal but we could not," said a CHO, who wanted to remain anonymous. "With the reform, the guidelines and process have become clear and it would be very helpful for the management circle."


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