South Korea: Fair Hiring Procedure Act Amended

 

By © Herbert Smith Freehills LLP September 6, 2019
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​Amendments to South Korea's Fair Hiring Procedure Act (the FHPA) took effect on July 17. These amendments seek to regulate the way in which private-sector job applicants are hired and ensure the provision of fair employment opportunities. Employers should make sure that their hiring policies are in line with these changes.

Amendments 

The amendments apply to employers in the private sector with 30 or more full-time employees and prohibit these employers from hiring job applicants on the basis of considerations that are irrelevant to the business's needs. 

It is now prohibited for employers to request personal information from job applicants if such information is unrelated to the performance of the role which the applicant is expected to perform. For example, employers may not ask for the applicant's height, weight, hometown, assets, family members or marital status, unless such information is necessary for business purposes. The employer also cannot request or compel applicants to provide supporting documents containing such information.

The amendments make it clear that employers cannot coerce, place undue pressure, or receive any benefits from job applicants. In addition, the employer should provide enough information to applicants on the hiring process, such as the date and time of any interview or written examination. 

These amendments form part of the South Korea government's push toward reforming hiring policies and seek to foster a culture of hiring based on relevant job skills and not on appearances or gender. Similar obligations were imposed on the public sector in 2017.

To complement the legislative amendments, the Ministry of Employment and Labor has issued a "Legal Work Manual on the Fair Hiring Procedure Act," which provides guidance to employers on how to comply with the requirements under the FHPA.

Penalties

Employers that coerce, place undue pressure or "seek gratification" from job applicants may be liable to pay an administrative fine not exceeding 30 million South Korean wons (roughly $25,000). Employers who continue to request or demand irrelevant personal information from job applicants may be liable to pay an administrative fine not exceeding 5 million South Korean wons (approximately $4,200).

Key Takeaways

Employers should undertake internal reviews of their hiring processes and prepare training and guidelines for existing employees involved in the hiring process—especially HR staff—to ensure compliance with the new FHPA requirements. 

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is a leading global legal services firm with 27 offices worldwide, including offices in Seoul, South Korea. © 2019 Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.

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