Foreign Workforce Employment
Employment Permit System
Employment Permit System
The Employment Permit System allows employers who have failed to hire native workers to legally hire an
adequate number of foreign workers and is an system that the government introduced to manage foreign workers in Korea in an organized manner.
- With an introduction of the Employment Permit System, small and medium businesses are able to minimize labor shortage and foreign workers will enjoy basic rights under labor relations laws fully applied to them.
Deciding industries and size of inflow of foreign workers
- The industries subject to and size of inflow of foreign workers and sending country under the Employment Permit System,
and etc, are to be deliberated and decided in the latter half of the year at the Foreign Workforce Policy Committee
(FWPC, Chairman: the Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination) and adjusted every year.
- The concerned industries would be mostly manufacturing, construction, and service business where it is difficult to attract
enough native workers, and particularly small and medium business with less than 300 workers suffering from severe
- The size of the inflow of foreign workers will be determined at an adequate level, taking into account the trends in the
supply&demand. To avoid having employers relying too much on foreign workers, ceilings will be set for each workplace.
- Sending countries will be selected by the FWPC based on the rate of illegally staying workers, preference by employers,
etc and MOU will be signed first with countries that accept all the requirements of Korea such as infrastructure of workers
to be sent, fair selection, and post-management capability, etc.
- Designation of sending countries for the Employment Permit System will proceed, independently of those of the current
Industrial Trainee System.
- The sending countries for the Employment Permit System are going to be restricted to an appropriate number.
* Every year, rate of illegally staying foreign workers, preference by employers, irregularities in regard to sending or
receiving foreign workers will be taken into considerations to adjust the quotas for each countries and if a certain level is
crossed, the designation of sending country can be cancelled.
Selection of Sending country and introduction of foreign workers
The sending countries designated by the FWPC and the Korean government (Ministry of Employment and Labor) sign MOU on sending
workers to the Republic of Korea under the EPS.
- Selection and introduction of foreign job-seekers are to be done by public organizations of both Korea and sending
countries.Private sending agencies are not allowed to intervene.
- For Korea, job-searching and employment management for foreign workers will be conducted by the Job
Centers of MOEL, and bringing foreign workers to Korea will be the responsibility of the Human
Resources Development Service of Korea(HRDKorea).
* For the Industrial Trainee System, private sending agencies performed recruiting and selecting industrial trainees,
which is leading to problems such as irregularities in sending and receiving foreign workers which served as causes
for workers' leaving their workplace arranged.
- Government and public organizations of sending countries shall make a list of foreign job-seekers three to five folds of the
quota for the Employment Permit System in accordance with criteria such as educational background,
and EPS-TOPIK stated in the MOU and send it to the public organization of Korea(HRDKorea).
- For employers that have made efforts but failed to hire native workers for seven days through the Job Center
of MOEL, hiring foreign workers will be permissible.
- Korean employers having been acknowledged to have labor shortage may select right persons from the list of foreign
workers at the Job Center and sign a standard labor contract with them.
Employment Management of Foreign Workers
Protection of rights according to Korean law
Foreign workers under the Employment Permit System shall have the status of worker from the beginning and have their
basic rights protected equally as Koreans for the three working years according to labor relations laws such as the Labor
- It is possible to differentiate the wage level if it is due to gaps in productivity or experiences between Korean and foreign
workers, but it is impossible to unfairly discriminate against foreign workers just because they are not Korean.
- The Ministry of Employment and Labor will step up to monitor businesses that hire foreign workers to prevent industrial accidents,
overdue wage, and etc.
Measures to prevent illegal stay of foreign workers after the introduction of the Employment Permit
- The introduction of the Employment Permit System for Foreigners lays an institutional grid that enables foreign workers
to work legally in Korea. Accordingly, continuous and adamant crack-down and stricter punishment will be reinforced
against illegal workers and their employers.