| A telemarketing company hired about 100 part-time workers this year who would be treated the same way as full-time, regular employees, corresponding to the government`s efforts to increase "quality" part-time jobs. However, such hiring has ended up costing additional expenses for the company. The company pays one million won (900 U.S. dollars) to employees working eight hours a day, while having to pay about 60 percent, rather than half, of the full-time salary to hire half-day workers.
"As we are offering better treatments to part-timers in accordance with the government policy, full-time workers complain about their salaries, claiming that they deserve 1.2 million won (1,080 dollars)," a company official said.
As businesses treating part-time workers the same way as full-timers in compensations and welfare see their manpower costs surge, the government has decided to cover for two years the four major social insurance premiums paid by small and medium-sized enterprises for their part-time workers. The plan is part of the government`s all-out efforts to increase the number of part-time regular jobs to reduce joblessness. President Park Geun-hye plans to visit in October hospitals and manufacturers employing part-time regular workers to listen to the employers` grievances.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the Ministry of Employment and Labor on Thursday, the government will pay employers` share of their workers` premiums for employment insurance, health insurance, industrial disaster insurance and national pensions for the first two years after a new part-timer is hired. Eligible employers are small businesses with less than 300 permanent employees or equity capital of less than 8 billion won (7.2 million dollars) and medium companies with 300 or more permanent employees and equity capital of over 8 billion. Per part-time regular employee with an annual salary of 20 million won (18,000 dollars), the government will provide about 160,000 won (144 dollars) a month for two years to cover the employer`s share of the worker`s social insurance premiums.
The finance ministry plans to include the funds in next year`s budget and is fine-tuning detailed standards. The labor ministry is also studying ways to extend its support of manpower costs up to 600,000 won (540 dollars) a month per part-time regular worker from one year to two years and increase the amount of the monthly subsidies up to 800,000 won (720 dollars), after consulting with the finance ministry early next month.
In addition, the government plans to propose a bill in September or October calling for the protection and promotion of part-time employment and introduce it to the National Assembly. The bill would ban employers from making part-time employees work longer than predetermined work hours and impose finds on workplaces that discriminate part-time workers.
In Korea, part-time workers account for 13.5 percent of the total number of employed people as of 2011, lower than in some European countries such as Germany, Britain and the Netherlands by 10 to 20 percentage points. "The ratio of part-time workers in our country is about half of some countries with employment rates of 70 percent or higher," said an official at the finance ministry. "The public sector should take the lead in improving the male-centered and full day-centered work culture to provide opportunities to work for those who cannot work full time."