Businesses that hire international talent are required by law to provide employees with any rights to which they're entitled in their country of residence. In addition, employers will need to process taxes that reflect their globally distributed employees when working with remote workers in more than one country.
The diversity in labor laws and tax regulations around the world makes it extremely challenging for companies to hire employees in countries like South Korea when their business is based elsewhere without an exhaustive understanding of local laws.
To navigate this aspect of global hiring and much more, it may be beneficial to partner with an employer of record (EOR) like Skuad to ensure that no laws are inadvertently being broken, which can place companies at severe risk for financial or legal fallout.
This resource will provide a comprehensive overview of government-mandated leave policies in South Korea to which any employees living there are entitled.
Annual leave in South Korea
Employees in South Korea are entitled to a minimum amount of paid annual leave commensurate with their tenure and attendance rate at their current company. The amount of annual leave time employees are entitled to is listed below:
Unlike many countries, South Korea does not have any regulations regarding annual leave carried into the following year. This means that unless otherwise specified in the employment contract, employees will need to use all their vacation time each year or risk losing it.
However, if an employee has unused vacation time from their current year of employment when they are terminated or voluntarily quit, the employer will be expected to compensate them.
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Public holidays in South Korea
There are 11 nationally recognized public holidays in South Korea; employers should offer employees time off to observe these holidays. Below is a table showing the dates and days of the week these public holidays fall in 2023.
South Korea 2023 public holiday calendar
Sick leave in South Korea
Employers in South Korea are not required to pay employees for any time off they take due to illness or injury they've contracted outside of the workplace. This means that any paid sick leave benefits employers provide in South Korea are supplementary.
However, if an employee contracts an illness or sustains an injury while performing any work-related duties, employers will need to provide them with paid time off.
Family care leave in South Korea
Employers will need to comply with the following family care leave benefits when hiring employees in South Korea.
Maternity leave in South Korea
All employees in South Korea are entitled to (and legally required to take) the following benefits when they are pregnant and after they give birth:
- In the event of normal birth, employees are entitled to a total of 90 days of maternity leave. This leave time can be allocated in any way the employee and employer agree upon, so long as the employee takes at least 45 days of leave post-partum. In the event an employee gives birth later than their due date, an employer must allow additional time off to ensure the employee takes the minimum allotted 45 days of post-partum leave. However, once an employee reaches their 90-day leave window, the employer is no longer obligated to offer paid time off.
- In the event of a stillbirth or miscarriage, an employee is entitled to a paid leave window between five and 90 days. The leave time depends on how far along in the pregnancy the employee was at the time of their stillbirth or miscarriage.
Both full-time and part-time employees may receive maternity benefits and are eligible to receive compensation from their employer from their date of hire.
However, because the employer and the social insurance fund split the cost of compensating employees for maternity leave benefits (the employer pays for the first 60 days of the employees' leave time, and the insurance fund pays for the remaining 30), in order to be eligible for the last 30 days of paid leave time, employees will need to have been continuously employed for the 180 days leading up to the beginning of their maternity leave.
Breastfeeding break in South Korea
In South Korea, employees who return to work from maternity leave are entitled to two 30-minute paid breaks to breastfeed or pump throughout their work day until their child reaches a year.
This is in addition to any breaks they would typically receive, as laid out in their employment contract.
Paternity leave in South Korea
Employees in South Korea are entitled to 10 days of paid paternity leave in South Korea. They can choose to use this leave time all at one time or split it into two different periods.
Childcare leave in South Korea
Employers are required to provide employees with the following childcare leave in South Korea:
- Employees are entitled to take a full year of childcare leave per child in which they do not work at all
- Employees are entitled to one additional year of childcare leave per child, in which they work reduced hours; the employee may request any number of reduced hours between one and five hours per day
- Employees may combine their childcare leave so any amount of time they don't take off work can be used as reduced hours instead (e.g., an employee can take six months of childcare leave entirely off and then work reduced hours for the remaining 18 months).
To be eligible for childcare leave, the employee's child has to be either under the age of eight or not yet completed the second grade in school.
Adoption leave in South Korea
Employees who adopt one or more children in South Korea are entitled to the same benefits to which parents who conceive naturally are entitled.
Compassionate care leave in South Korea
Many countries have statutes regarding how much paid or unpaid time an employee is entitled to when a close family member dies; this is known as compassionate care or bereavement leave.
However, South Korea does not have any regulations when it comes to compassionate care leave, which means that if an employer offers this benefit, it's entirely supplementary.
Offering supplementary benefits like compassionate care leave can help you attract premium talent.
Easily navigate leave policy in South Korea with Skuad
Employers may have difficulty navigating foreign leave laws, particularly if they hire multiple employees who live in different countries. However, remaining compliant with local leave laws and other local regulations is essential to minimizing the risk of international employment.
If you're planning on hiring one or more employees in South Korea, consider utilizing Skuad's employer of record services.
With Skuad, companies can compliantly hire employees all over the world in minutes, which means you can find and hire the best talent in South Korea without doing the work of learning the local labor and tax laws. Talk to our experts to know more.