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S. Korea to map out universal employment insurance plan by year-end: labor minister

All News 11:56 May 21, 2020

SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- The government plans to prepare a roadmap for a universal employment insurance system by the end of the year, the labor minister said Thursday.

"The government plans to provide a roadmap by the end of this year to clear any blind spots in the universal employment insurance system," Labor Minister Lee Jae-gap said in a press briefing Thursday, "We will then hold social dialogue (over the issue) and expand the scope of beneficiaries in phased steps."

The minister's remarks follow moves by the ruling party and the presidential office that have highlighted the need to reinforce the insurance scheme to enable all people engaged in economic activities to file for unemployment claims when they lose jobs.

The issue emerged as many non-regular workers, the self-employed, freelancers and other vulnerable workers fell in a "blind spot" in the employment insurance system even though they have been hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Labor Minister Lee Jae-gap speaks at a press briefing at the government complex in Seoul on May 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

Addressing a recently-approved bill that includes people who work in the arts and performing industries as employment insurance beneficiaries, Lee said it has helped pave the way to include freelancers into the system.

Lee, however, voiced regret that non-standard contract employees, such as private insurance planners, were excluded from the revised bill that was passed at the final session of the 20th National Assembly on Wednesday.

South Korea runs four state-managed social insurance programs -- the national pension, health insurance, employment insurance and industrial accident compensation insurance.

The employment insurance program was introduced in 1995 as the main employment safety net for regular workers in workplaces of certain sizes.

All employers who hire at least one worker were required to enroll in the employment insurance starting in 1998.

But non-standard contract employees, freelancers, artists, the self-employed and other vulnerable workers are not obliged to subscribe to the employment insurance as they are not regarded as workers under the labor standard act.

A citizen receives consulting about unemployment claims at a branch of Seoul's employment agency in Mapo, western Seoul, on April 28, 2020. (Yonhap)


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