Evaluation and Problems of the Employment Permit System

Evaluation and Problems

of the Employment Permit System Part 2 Evaluation and Problems of the Employment Permit System

Ki-don Kim (Head of Counseling Team, Center for Migrant Workers’ Human Rights in Korea)

▶ Background of
introduction The overseas-invested corporation trainee system (1991) and the industrial technology trainee system (1993), introduced in the late 1980s due to the manpower shortage of domestic manufacturers, were introduced. As an expedient policy introduced under the status of ”, it systematically denies the worker’s character and excludes the application of the Labor Relations Act and the Industrial Accident Compensation Act, etc. to migrant workers. It has become a hotbed of labor rights and human rights against migrant workers. In addition, as private interest groups such as fisheries cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives, and construction cooperatives, including the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises Cooperatives, were in charge of manpower introduction and management, tyranny under the guise of transmission corruption and follow-up management became widespread. This problem inevitably accelerated the departure of migrant workers from the workplace and acted as the main cause of the mass production of undocumented migrant workers.
The resulting lameness of the foreign manpower policy made 290,000 out of 360,000 migrant workers undocumented in 2003, and the ratio reached 80%, which made the human rights situation of migrant workers increasingly deteriorating.
In this context, as a legislative petition campaign for a bill to guarantee the labor and human rights of migrant workers, which was continued mainly by migrant workers’ human rights groups, both parties of the ruling and opposition parties proposed the introduction of the employment permit system as a presidential campaign promise during the 2002 presidential election. After that, the government decided to introduce the employment permit system in March 2003 after consultation with the relevant ministries, and the 「Employment Permit for Foreign Workers and Human Rights Act (initiated by Jae-Jeong Lee)」(submitted in November 2002) On August 16, 2003, the 「Act on Employment of Foreign Workers」 was enacted. However, the issue of the abolition of the industrial training system and the full legalization of undocumented migrant workers, which were the core of the controversy, ended with the preservation of the industrial training system and selective legalization of undocumented migrant workers, contrary to what was originally expected, and the principle of prohibition of workplace movement was blocked. It had an unstable start with the fatal limitations of the system itself. After a one-year grace period, the employment permit system was implemented in earnest on August 17, 2004. On January 1, 2007, the industrial training system was abolished and the foreign manpower policy was unified into the employment permit system.
▶ Main contents
The Foreign Workforce Policy Committee under the Prime Minister’s Office decides on the appropriate scale and business type of foreign manpower every year, and selects the sending country. After that, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the department in charge of labor administration in the selected sending country and the Korean Ministry of Labor, and private institutions, except for the government agencies in charge, are excluded from interfering in the sending process. The memorandum of understanding on manpower dispatch is renewed every two years after evaluation of manpower dispatch work. The sending country government recruits and selects the manpower to be sent to Korea, prepares a list of job seekers and sends them to Korea. At this time, the prerequisites for job seekers are: 1) 18 years of age or older, 2) holders of a valid passport, 3) those with no grounds for disqualification, 4) those who have passed the Korean Language Proficiency Test, and 5) those who have passed the medical examination.
Workers who entered Korea can work in Korea for up to three years through a one-year renewal contract. Workers can re-enter Korea one month after leaving their home country and work in Korea for another three years.
In 2004, when the Employment Permit System was in operation, the Korean government signed a memorandum of understanding with six countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Mongolia) for manpower transfer, and later, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Nepal, China, Pakistan, A memorandum of understanding was signed with Myanmar and other countries for manpower transfer, and workers from 15 countries are currently entering the country through the Employment Permit System.
▶ Characteristics
① Securing the publicness of the foreign workforce introduction system
In the employment permit system, the foreign manpower policy was prepared as a government policy to introduce and manage foreign manpower, which had been in charge of the private sector. This is the first time that the government has been in charge of the introduction of foreign workers, which has been in the private sector, through system operation. For this reason, Korea’s ‘Ministry of Labor’ is the main department for system operation, and in the case of sending countries, ‘labor-related organizations’ or the government department responsible for sending overseas manpower are in charge of manpower dispatch. This is to prevent and prevent local transmission corruption and domestic and domestic human rights and labor rights violations that occurred while in charge of the private sector. To this end, if the contents of the MOU and essential requirements related to the system operation of the Korean Ministry of Labor are not implemented in the sending country, the Korean Ministry of Labor allows the sending country to take measures to suspend transmission.
② Recognition of ‘worker’s character’
of migrant workers Migrant workers who enter the country under the Employment Permit System are granted the status of workers upon entry. Therefore, migrant workers are protected by Korea’s labor-related laws (Labor Standards Act, Minimum Wage Act, Occupational Safety Act, etc.). However, the right to labor is seriously violated due to the prohibition of workplace change and the recognition of the unilateral termination of the contract by the employer, and the three labor rights ‘the right to organize, the right to bargain, and the right to collective action’, which are the core rights of realistic workers, are not practically enjoyed. have.
③ Prohibition or restriction of change of workplace
The Employment Permit System basically requires migrant workers to work at the company they signed the initial contract with, and arbitrarily changing workplaces is prohibited. Change of workplace is permitted only for limited reasons, and even if a corresponding reason occurs, the workplace can be changed only three times. However, if all three workplace changes occurred due to reasons not attributable to the migrant worker, one additional shift may be made. Reasons for changing the workplace include: 1) When the employer terminates the labor contract or refuses to renew after the labor contract expires 2) When it is impossible to continue working at the workplace due to reasons not attributable to the migrant worker, such as a holiday or closure, 3) The workplace In the case of revocation of employment permit or employment restriction measures for foreigners, etc. In addition, even in the case of a change of workplace, the applicant must apply for a job at another workplace within one month of reporting the resignation, and sign a contract with the other workplace during the two-month job search period.
▶ Problems
① Problems in the local transmission process The
Employment Permit System was introduced to eradicate the transmission corruption that occurred under the industrial training system. Therefore, for workers entering Korea under the Employment Permit System, the official sending cost is not to exceed 1,000 USD, but the actual sending cost per country is found to be paying up to 12,000 USD (Vietnam). It can be said that this shows that it does not properly deal with corruption in the field transmission, which is one of the important reasons for the employment permit system that has replaced the industrial training system.
② Restriction on business movement
Migrant workers who entered Korea under the Employment Permit System are restricted in the number, reason, and period of movement of their workplace under Article 25 of the ‘Act on the Employment of Foreign Workers, etc.’.
Restriction on workplace movement causes violations of labor and human rights of migrant workers, and is a major cause of undocumented workers under the employment permit system. As a result, undocumented workers are being mass-produced, and practical forced labor for migrant workers is being generalized by unilaterally granting employers the right to terminate the contractual relationship between employers and workers.  
③ Problems with re-
employment rights For workers who entered the employment permit system and industrial training system after June 1, if the employer consents to re-employment, the employer allows them to re-enter the country and work at the existing workplace. have. The current re-employment procedure requires the consent of the employer, so the employer has all of the authority for re-employment. This is strengthening the attribution of migrant workers to their employers, so the option of re-employment, that is, renewal of contracts, should be given fairly.
▶ Conclusion
The Employment Permit System was operated at the government level to introduce foreign workers, which had been operated by the private sector, to prevent mass production of undocumented workers, eradicate corruption in transmission, and guarantee the human rights of migrant workers. However, if you look at the operating framework of the employment permit system, the fundamental cause of the violation of the human rights and labor rights of migrant workers is by highlighting the devices for the convenience of employers who use foreign manpower, such as the prohibition of workplace changes and the right to re-employment vested in the employer. will say there is In addition, since the full-fledged implementation of the system in 2004, the government has expanded the convenience of employers through continuous system improvement and amendments to laws, but the rights of migrant workers have not progressed. The Employment Permit System is a system that allows employers to ’employ’. If so, the employer who has been granted ’employment’ should be given responsibility as much as the authority is granted, but if you look at the process of operating laws and systems, the fundamental disadvantages are being passed on to the workers. For this reason, the Employment Permit System is degenerating into a system for, by, and by employers, beyond the original purpose of its introduction.

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