How to hire and pay employees in South Korea

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South Korea

Before hiring

EMPLOYEES IN
South Korea

Before hiring employees in South Korea, there are a few important things you’ll need to know. Firstly, in South Korea, employees are entitled to  severance pay  of one month’s salary  for each year of employment if they have worked for at least one year.

It’s also important for employers to know that in South Korea, employees are entitled to 90 days of paid maternity leave, or 120 days in case of twins. Of this, at least 60 days (or 75 days in case of twins) is paid by the company; the remainder is paid by the government.

We know this might sound overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be. A solution like Oyster eliminates the barriers for you. With Oyster, you can automate compliance across 180+ countries, easily managing HR and payroll—all in one, easy-to-use platform. 

Get an overview of what you need to know when hiring in South Korea below.

At a glance

CURRENCY

KRW

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

KOREAN

PAYROLL FREQUENCY

MONTHLY

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

11

(based on region;
see here
)

EMPLOYER TAXES

9.96% TO 28.46%

of gross salary

13th / 14th SALARY

N/A

Good to know

  • Employers in South Korea are not required to provide paid leave for non-work-related illness. Employees generally use their annual paid leave as personal sick days.
  • There is no limit for daily overtime for employees, but the weekly overtime cannot exceed 52 hours.
  • The number of paid vacation days available to an employee depends on their length of employment: 11 days in the first year of employment, 15 in the second and third years, and thereafter an additional day for every two years of employment (capped at a maximum of 25 days).

Labor laws in

South Korea

Working hours and overtime

Employees in South Korea work eight hours per day, 40 hours per week. 

In South Korea, anything over 40 hours per week and eight hours per day is considered overtime, and is paid at 150% of an employee’s regular wages.

When it comes to working on holidays, employees are entitled to 150% of regular wages for eight hours of work and 200% of regular wages for more than eight hours of work.

There is no limit for daily overtime for employees, but the weekly overtime cannot exceed 52 hours.

Employment contracts

Probationary period

In South Korea, the probationary period is three months. 

Pensions

IP protection and non-compete agreements

Non-compete agreements in South Korea must be reasonable and limited in scope. Legally enforceable agreements are usually not longer than 12 months, and must include compensation to the employee (monetary or otherwise) in exchange for the execution of the non-compete covenant.

Calculate costs to hire internationally

Benefits and leave in

South Korea

Vacation time

In the first year of employment, employees in South Korea are entitled to 11 days of paid leave per year. In their second and third years, employees are entitled to 15 days of paid leave per year.

In the third year and onwards, employees accrue one day of  paid leave  for every two years of employment. This is capped at a maximum of 25 days.

Sick leave

Employers are not mandated to provide paid leave for non-work-related illness. Employees generally use their annual paid leave as personal sick days.

Parental leave

Employees are entitled to 90 days of paid maternity leave, or 120 days in case of twins. Of this, at least 60 days (or 75 days in case of twins) is paid by the company; the remainder is paid by the government.

Employees are also entitled to up to 10 days of paid paternity leave. Of this, five days are paid by the company and five by the government.

Holidays

View a list of recognized public holidays in South Korea here.

Employer tax

An employer’s social contributions are between 9.96% and 28.46%. This includes contributions for:

  • National Pension: 4.5%
  • National Health Insurance: 3.676838%
  • Employment Insurance: 1.05% to 1.65%
  • Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance: 0.73% to 18.63%

Individual tax

In South Korea, employees pay between 6% and 42% depending on their income bracket. They also pay a social security tax of 8.97%. 

Termination in

South Korea

In South Korea, employees are entitled to  severance pay  of one month’s salary for each year of employment if they have worked for at least one year. These severance payments apply to voluntary resignation as well as termination for cause.

Notice period

The notice period for dismissals in South Korea is 30 days. Employers can also provide 30 days' pay in lieu of notice. 

Start hiring employees in

South Korea

Setting up a business entity everywhere you want to hire a new employee isn’t scalable—it takes too long and the legal fees are high. At the same time, understanding and adhering to the local labor laws and employee expectations can be complex and time consuming. And it’s hard to find reliable information on up-to-date employment information for all the countries where you’re considering hiring. Not to mention tracking down invoices and managing employee contracts over email and spreadsheets—that gets messy fast. 

We can’t afford to take risks when it comes to compliance—we need to make sure we follow the local guidelines, especially when it comes to taxes and legalities. 

With Oyster, you can manage HR and payroll, and automate compliance across 180+ countries—all in one, easy-to-use platform.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this resource is for general educational purposes only and shall not be construed as legal advice. While Oyster strives to provide current and accurate information, Oyster makes no warranties or representations as to the correctness of the content provided and accepts no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content provided. By using this resource you acknowledge and agree that you do so at your own risk. The content of this resource is subject to change without notice.

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