In June 2012, the government of Republic of Korea announced a change to the rules for resident foreign nationals.



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Inception date: 01 Aug 2012 | Removal date: open ended

Post-migration treatment

On 4 June 2012, the Ministry of Employment and Labor of the Republic of Korea adopted a 'Measure for Improvement in Foreign Workers' Change of Workplaces and Prevention of Broker Intervention'.

Under the previous Employment Permit System (EPS), migrant workers could work in the country in designated sectors for a maximum of 4 years and 10 months. They were allowed to change their workplace only once a year within the same sector and no movement across sectors was allowed. Permission of the employer was required to change workplace and the migrant had to find a new employer (among a list of permitted companies) within 3 months, otherwise the worker would have lost the work visa and residency permit.
The new measure introduces additional restrictions for migrant workers: Migrant workers wishing to change workplace can only do so in case of i) closing of business; ii) delayed wage payments and iii) other 'justifiable reason'. Moreover, they can no longer choose among a list of companies in which they would like to work. Instead, employers are provided with a list of migrant workers seeking employment. It is the employer who then asks the foreigner for an interview and those who do not show up or refuse a job position 'without rational reason' are not allowed to receive offers for a period of 2 weeks. If migrants are not recruited within a period of three months, they lose their job visa and residency permit.
The measure is subject to international scrutiny as it is said to violate the right of free choice of employment included in Article 23.1 of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights; Article 6.1 of the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 1 of the ILO Convention 122.
The amendments were supposed to enter into force on 1 August 2012.