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Bereaved families can get foreign workers pension payments

March 26, 2023 - 15:16 By Lee Jung-youn

The South Korean Constitutional Court has ruled that a clause in the Construction Workers Act preventing the payment of retirement deductions to foreign nationals' bereaved families living abroad is unconstitutional.

The ruling came after a Vietnamese woman, whose husband worked in Korea and died in a construction site accident, was denied retirement deductions by the Construction Workers' Mutual Aid Association due to her foreign nationality and residency abroad.

With the unanimous opinion of all judges, the Constitutional Court ruled on Sunday that an article of the former Construction Workers Act was unconstitutional.

The Vietnamese woman, who filed the constitutional appeal, earned a living through the regular remittances sent by her husband, who worked in Korea.

After her husband died in an accident at the construction site in September 2019, the woman asked for retirement reductions to the Construction Workers' Mutual Aid Association -- a public organization in charge of workers’ welfare under the Labor Ministry.

However, the association judged that the woman did not meet the conditions for receiving retirement deductions as prescribed by the Construction Workers Act because she is a "foreign national living abroad."

The woman filed a lawsuit against the association to claim her retirement deductions and applied for an adjudication on the constitutionality of the relevant legal provision. However, the court rejected both appeals, and the woman requested a constitutional complaint.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the exclusion of foreign bereaved families residing abroad from the category of eligible beneficiaries for retirement deductions violates the principle of equality.

Meanwhile, with the revision of the Construction Workers Act in November 2019, the regulation of excluding foreign bereaved families living abroad from retirement deductions has been removed.