SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Korea Bizwire) – The government said Tuesday it will sternly punish employers who habitually and intentionally do not pay salaries in a timely manner.
A total of 296,000 employees across the country were not properly paid in due time last year, according to data by the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
“The government will establish the principle of no tolerance against intentional violation of the law by sternly investigating habitual and intentional wage defaulters and putting offenders behind bars,” Labor Minister Lee Ki-kweon said during a government-ruling party meeting.
Overdue wages owed to the workers in the country were estimated at 1.29 trillion won (US$1.07 billion) in 2015, according to the data.
Lee further said that the government will intensively monitor workplaces and encourage companies to pay their salaries in a timely manner in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year’s holiday in February. This year’s holiday falls on Feb. 8.
Rep. Kim Jung-hoon of the ruling Saenuri Party said the party will make efforts and cooperate with the government to swiftly pass a set of related bills on wage defaulters.’
Also, the government and the party said they will come up with administrative guidelines on internships as part of a set of efforts to deal with the issue of so-called “passion pay.”
Young job seekers have coined the term, referring to the phenomenon that interns face low wages in hopes that their passion for the work could help brighten their prospects for decent jobs.
The jobless rate among young people between 15 and 29 stood at 8.1 percent in November, much higher than the 3.1 percent unemployment rate for the country as a whole, according to government data.
The government said it will ban internship positions from working on holidays, as well as limit the maximum period of internships to six months.