The government and the ruling party agreed Friday to expand welfare benefits for low-wage workers in small workplaces and set guidelines banning discrimination against temporary workers as part of efforts to increase job stability, party officials said.
The agreement came at a meeting among the Grand National Party (GNP) and the labor ministry after President Lee Myung-bak vowed to enact measures to end discrimination against workers based on their academic background and employment status and create more jobs.
The move is the latest in a series of government measures aimed at improving people's livelihoods, including withdrawal of additional tax cuts for high earners and big businesses and expanded state budget for tuition reduction, to woo voters ahead of the general elections in April next year.
The employment support package covers one-third of unemployment insurance and national pension fees to small business owners' employees who work more than 15 hours a week and earn less than 120 percent of the minimum wage.
"The government will support insurance fees for low-wage workers in small workplaces with less than five employees, as many of them do not benefit from unemployment insurance and national pension benefits," Rep. Kim Sung-tae, who chairs the GNP's special employment committee, told reporters.
For the proposal, the government set aside 240 billion won (US$220 million) of the state budget, officials noted.
They also agreed to expand industrial insurance for workers who face higher risk of industrial accidents, including those who provide quick delivery service or door-to-door deliveries.
To reduce discrimination between regular and temporary workers in workplaces, officials plan to make a set of guidelines that instruct employers to offer fair pay and welfare benefits to irregular workers and give labor officials the power to take a more aggressive approach to punish violators, they said.
The ratio of temporary workers in South Korea to the total workforce recorded 21.3 percent last year, the fourth-highest among its member nations, according to the report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).