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Employment law in the Republic of Korea – an overview

17 May 2017

The Republic of Korea (often referred to as South Korea and in this in-brief as Korea) has one of Asia’s strongest performing economies and is home to some of the world’s largest brands. Despite its fast ageing population and a chronically low level of productivity, Korea continues to be popular place to invest for foreign companies.

The employment law landscape

The Korean labour market is highly regulated and very employee friendly, with powerful labour unions and stringent employment protection laws. Some employment rights are even enshrined in the national constitution. In general, employees are well informed about their employment rights and often challenge dismissals. Although weakening somewhat, as in Japan, there is still a cultural expectation of career long employment with the same employer.

Korea has a civil law system although court decisions have strong precedent value, especially decisions of the Korean Supreme Court. The Labour Standards Act (“LSA”) is the principal statute regulating the employment relationship and providing minimum employment standards.

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