09/09/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA

Seoul: New employment system favours part-timers

Theresa Kim Hwa-young

The government is seeking to rein in the country's low birth rate by offering incentives to mothers and part-timers . Grants will be provided for businesses who take up the plan.

Seoul (AsiaNews) –Workers at South Korean firms with less than five employees will be able to receive retirement allowances when they quit their jobs, starting from 2008. To date, small companies have not been obliged to pay such allowances.

This is one of a series of new measures launched by Seoul to enhance the rights and working conditions of non-regular workers, announced by Prime Minister Han Myung-sook. The government will also allow employees to work part-time under certain conditions such as health problems, child-rearing needs and postgraduate education requirements.

"The new measures will help prevent an increase of irregular workers by allowing employees to reduce their working hours for various reasons," said Kim In-kon, a labour ministry official.

The government will introduce reduced working hours for parents of children aged three or younger. "In this way, we expect to help many working mothers whose careers usually come to an abrupt halt due to pregnancy,'' said Kim. "Working as part-timers without any disadvantage, they will be able to raise their children.''

Seoul plans to provide employers with financial support or tax benefits to encourage a more flexible employment system.

In some cases, the system will be operational already by the coming May. To solve irregularities and problems stemming from complicated contracts, the government has announced it will step fiscal and legal monitoring of subcontracting companies.

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