Filing a Petition to a Korean Ministry of Employment & Labor’s Labor Office in South Korea

Filing a petition to the Korean Labor Office in Korea in your area is the first step for some employees in Korea who assert that their labor rights under Korean Labor Law are violated. In many cases, it is advisable to not file with the Ministry of Employment & Labor’s (MOEL) Labor Office, but file, directly, to a Korean District Court.

This discussion of the proper forum for a dispute in a Korean labor law case is beyond the scope of this article and shall be addressed in a future post. If you are an expat executive in Korea working for a Korean-based or international company with an office in Korea, please see the following article: Unfair/Wrongful Dismissal of Foreign Executives under Term Contract with Korean Chaebols or International Companies in Korea

Filing a Petition/Complaint to the Korean Ministry of Employment & Labor’s Labor Office

The process to file a case is simple and in many cases, a non-pro bono attorney in Korea is not an efficient means for handling a matter. For example, in a case where a Korea-based employee does not pay severance to an employee in Korea and the employee is being paid close to the minimum wage – in all but the most exceptional of cases, the Korean attorney shall cost more than the severance. However, we advise, always, discussing a matter with a lawyer in Korea, before deciding to forego legal help. In many cases, attorneys can guide you to assistance.

Step One: File the Petition to MOEL

To file a petition to the MOEL, the employee in Korea must provide their basic personal information, including their name, address, contact information, and the employee’s name, address, and contact information. Additionally, the employee must provide a detailed description of the issue, along, with relevant documents the employee has related to the issue. A link to the application may be found at: Ministry of Employment & Labor’s E-Application. You, also, may file the application at your local office of the Ministry of Employment & Labor. The offices may be located by Contacting the MOEL Here.

Step Two: Meet or Discuss via Phone the Matter with a MOEL Officer

After filing, the Korean Labor Office shall assign a Korean Ministry of Labor & Employment Labor Officer (Labor Officer) to review the case and provide guidance on how to proceed. The Korean Labor Officer may ask for additional information or evidence.

Step Three: Mediation at the Korean Labor Office

In some cases, the Labor Officer believes the matter may be resolved through mediation. In this case, the Labor Officer shall arrange a meeting between the employer and the employee. If an agreement between the parties is reached, the matter is closed. This agreement, in most cases, must be in writing.

Step Four: Investigation at the Korean Labor Office

If the matter is not resolved through mediation at the Korean Labor Office or the Korean Labor Officer believes that mediation is not useful in the situation, the Labor Officer shall investigate the matter. The Korean Labor Investigation can involve the calling of witnesses, requests for documents, and other evidence. Typically, the investigation takes between a few weeks and a few months depending on the complexity of the matter.

Step Five: Judgment of the Korean Labor Office

Once the Labor Investigation in Korea is complete, the Korean Labor Officer will make a decision on the case. If the Labor Officer finds that the employer in Korea has violated Korean Labor Laws or regulations, the Korean Labor Officer may issue a correction order, which requires the Korea-based employer to take corrective action to remedy the violation of the law. If the employer in Korea fails to comply with this Korean Labor Office imposed Correction Order, the Labor Officer may impose a civil penalty.

Step Six: Appeal of the Judgment of the Korean Labor Office

The employee or employer, in Korea, is not satisfied with the decision of the Korean Labor Officer, they may appeal to the Korean Labor Relations Commission. The Labor Relations Commission of Korea will review the case and make a final decision. The final decision may be appealed to the Korean courts.

To schedule a call with a labor & employment attorney please: Schedule a Call with an Attorney.

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