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Grace period sought for workplace safety law at small businesses

Dec. 3, 2023 - 19:46 By Kim Arin
Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon, the leader of the ruling People Power Party, speaks during a high-level meeting with government officials on Sunday. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s ruling party is seeking an amendment to laws that punish employers for serious industrial accidents that would give workplaces with fewer than 50 employees an exemption for another two years.

In a statement issued after a high-level meeting with the concerned ministries on Sunday, the People Power Party said that smaller workplaces were not yet prepared to keep up with the laws enacted in January 2021.

The party said that applying the laws indiscriminately could lead to closures of small businesses and subsequent job losses, and that extending the grace period was necessary.

To have the amendment passed by the end of December, the ruling party said it would work closely with the opposition Democratic Party of Korea, which holds the majority in the National Assembly.

Under the laws that came into effect two years ago, owners of companies with more than 50 employees can face at least one year in prison or up to 1 billion won ($769,822) in fines for deadly workplace accidents caused by lax safety enforcement.

Companies with 50 or fewer employees were given a grace period until January 2024.