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Republic of Korea. Equal Employment Act Act No. 3989, Dec. 4, 1987, Amended by Act No. 4976, Aug. 4, 1995
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Republic of Korea

Equal Employment Act Act No. 3989, Dec. 4, 1987

Amended by Act No. 4976, Aug. 4, 1995


The purpose of this Act is to ensure equal opportunity and treatment of men and women in employment in compliance with the idea of equality in the Constitution, and also to contribute to improving the status of working women and to promoting their welfare by protecting maternity and developing their vocational ability.

Section 2 (Basic Idea)

Since working women contribute to the economic and social development and play important roles in the creation and raising of the next generations, maternity shall be protected, and women shall be allowed to pursue their ability fully in working life without any discrimination on the grounds of sex.

Section 2-2 (Definition)

(1) For the purpose of this Act, the term "discrimination" shall mean different conditions of employment or work or any other disadvantageous measures imposed or taken by the employer against workers on the grounds of sex, marital status, family or pregnancy status, etc. or without any other due reasons.

(2) The protection of maternity of working women shall not be considered as discrimination as defined in this Act.

(3) Temporary special measures regarding a particular sex promulgated by the state, local government or an employer with the purpose of removing existing discrimination shall not be considered as discrimination as referred to in this Act.

Section 3 (Scope of Application)

(1) This Act shall apply to any employer or workplace to which the Labour Standards Act applies (hereinafter referred to as "business"); provided that this Act shall not apply to a business as prescribed by Presidential Decree.

(2) Except as otherwise provided by other laws, matters concerning the improvement of the status and the promotion of welfare of working women shall be subject to this Act.

Section 4 (Responsibilities of persons concerned)

(1) A working woman shall have a self-consciousness as a worker, exert herself for the development and improvement of her ability, and make efforts to display this in her working life.

(2) Employers, state and local governments shall make efforts to improve the status of working women and to promote their welfare according to the basic idea as specified in section 2.

(3) State and local governments shall promote the interest and understanding of citizens of issues relating to the welfare of working women, carry out development activities to provide them with the abilities required for workers, and make efforts necessary for eliminating all elements which frustrate working women from demonstrating their ability.

Section 5 (Establishment of Basic Plan for Working Women's Welfare)

(1) The Minister of Labour shall establish a basic plan on the promotion of working women's welfare (hereinafter referred to as "basic plan").

(2) The basic plan as referred to in sub-section (1) shall include the following matters concerning:

(3) In order to deliberate over the basic plan as referred to in sub-section (1) and other important matters concerning the improvement of working women's status and the promotion of their welfare, a Working Women Committee shall be established in the Ministry of Labour.

(4) Matters necessary for the organization, function and operation of the Working Women Committee as referred to in sub-section (3) shall be determined by Presidential Decree.

CHAPTER II - General Provisions

Section 6 (Recruitment and Employment)

(1) An employer shall give equal opportunity to women as men with regard to recruitment of workers.

(2) In recruiting or hiring women workers, employers shall not bind employees to or demand certain physical conditions such as appearance, height, weight, etc.; a particular marital status, such as being single; or any other condition specified in an Ordinance of Labour Ministry that are not necessary to perform a certain job.

Section 6-2 (Wage)

(1) Any employer shall pay the equal wage for work of equal value in the same business.

(2) Criteria for work to be considered of equal value shall be the level of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, etc., which are required in carrying out the duties. In setting up the criteria, employers shall take advice of those who represent workers in the grievance council as prescribed in section 14.

(3) Any enterprise undertaken separately by an employer for the purpose of wage discrimination shall be considered as an identical enterprise.

Section 6-3 (Non-Wage Payment in Kind or Money)

If an employer additionally provides workers with money, articles or loans to support their livelihood, the employer shall not discriminate against women workers by reason of sex.

Section 7 (Training, Assignment and Promotion)

An employer shall not discriminate against women workers by reason of marriage, pregnancy, child-delivery, or against females with respect to their training, assignment and promotion.

Section 8 (Age Limit, Retirement and Dismissal)

(1) An employer shall not discriminate in favour of men only by reason of sex with respect to retirement age and dismissal of workers.

(2) An employer shall not enter into any labour contract stipulating the marriage, pregnancy or child-delivery of working women as a cause for retirement.

Section 9 (Vocational Guidance)

The employment security agency shall take measures necessary for vocational guidance, such as offering materials related to surveys, research, etc. on employment information, jobs, etc., so as to help working women choose a job according to their aptitude, ability, experience and skill, and to facilitate their acquaintance with the job.

Section 10 (Vocational Training, etc.)

The State and local governments shall guarantee women equal opportunities as men with regard to all vocational training for developing and improving their abilities; the State and local governments shall also secure facilities and equipment to conduct vocational training for working women, and take other further necessary measures.

CHAPTER III - Protection of Maternity and Installation of Welfare Facilities

Section 11 (Childcare Leave)

(1) If either a woman who has an infant under one year of age or her spouse applies for childcare leave to take care of the infant (hereinafter referred to as "childcare leave"), the employer shall permit childcare leave for him or her; provided that nothing otherwise is stipulated by Presidential Decree.

(2) The period of childcare under sub-section (1) shall not exceed one year nor extend beyond the first birthday of the infant.

(3) No employer shall unfavourably treat a worker by reason of taking childcare leave prescribed in sub-section (1), and the period of childcare leave prescribed in sub-section (2) shall be included in the total service period of the worker.

(4) The application methods, procedures and other necessary matters for the childcare leave shall be provided by Presidential Decree.

Section 12 (Nursing Facilities)

(1) In order to support continuous employment of workers, an employer shall furnish childcare facilities necessary for child-related activities such as breast-feeding, day-nursing, etc.(hereinafter referred to as "childcare facilities at work") and report them to the Minister of Labour .

(2) Matters such as the scope of employers required to install childcare facilities at work prescribed in sub-section (1) concerning the installation and operation of the childcare at work shall be provided by the Infant Nursery Act.

Section 13 (Installation of Welfare Facilities)

(1) State and local governments may install public welfare facilities, such as education, childcare, housing facilities etc., for working women.

(2) The criteria for welfare facilities for working women as referred to in sub-section (1) and matters necessary for the operation of such facilities shall be determined by the Minister of Labour.

CHAPTER IV - Mediation of Disputes

Section 14 (Autonomous Settlement of Disputes)

(1) If an employer is informed of a grievance from a worker with respect to matters as prescribed in sections 6, 6-2, 6-3, 7, 8, 11, and 12, the employer shall make efforts to settle the grievance autonomously by entrusting the grievance council in the workplace with the management of the matter.

(2) The grievance council referred to in sub-section (1) shall be composed of an equal number of those who represent employers and who represent workers at the workplace respectively, and if there is a trade union at the workplace, the working women of that trade union shall be a representative of the workers.

(3) The scope of employers which are required to organize a grievance council as prescribed in sub-section (1), the method of forming such councils, procedures to deal with the grievances and other necessary matters shall be provided by Presidential Decree.

Section 15 (Assistance in Settlement of Disputes)

In the case where any grievance reported by a worker under section 14 is not autonomously settled and both or either of the trade union of the enterprise to which the worker belongs and/or the employer of worker (hereinafter referred to as "interested parties") requests assistance for grievance settlement from the local labour office, the head of the local office shall render necessary advice, guidance, recommendations within ten days upon receipt of such a request or prompt the Equal Employment Commission to engage in a mediation.

Section 16 (Establishment of Equal Employment Commission)

The Equal Employment Commission (hereinafter referred to as "Commission") shall be established to mediate disputes arising within its jurisdiction under section 15 and to consult the following matters related to the promotion of employment of working women and equal treatment:

1. Promotion of employment of working women.

2. Guarantee of equal opportunity and treatment in employment for men and women.

3. Protection of maternity of working women.

4. Establishment and operation of welfare facilities for working women.

5. Other matters related to the enhancement of the status and welfare of working women.

Section 17 (Formation of the Commission, etc.)

(1) The Commission shall consist of fifteen members, including the chairman and five members each representing the workers, the employers, and the public interest respectively; provided that the members representing the trade union and the members representing the employers, and the public servants who have a profound knowledge and experience in or involved in matters related to working women and who represent the public interest respectively, shall be commissioned by the Minister of Labour upon recommendation of the local labour administrator.

(2) The Commission shall assign not less than two expert staff members to investigate matters necessary for the mediation of disputes and to render other assistance to the Commission's business.

(3) Matters necessary for the qualification, appointment, etc. of members shall be determined by Presidential Decree.

Section 18 (Mediation by the Commission)

(1) The Commission may demand interested parties or administrative agencies to attend, present materials and render other necessary cooperation.

(2) The Commission may prepare the proposal terms of mediation of any dispute and recommend the interested parties to accept the terms.

(3) When the interested parties have accepted the proposal of mediation, the Commission shall prepare the mediation proposition in writing and any labour contract prescribing the working condition inconsistent with the terms prescribed in the proposed mediation shall be revoked to the extent of such part and the revoked part shall be replaced by the terms determined in the mediation.

(4) The Commission shall notify the interested parties of the result of mediation within thirty days after they received the request for mediation.

(5) Matters concerning the procedure of dispute mediation and operation, etc., of the Commission shall be prescribed in an Ordinance of the Labour Ministry.

Section 19 (Burden of Proof)

The burden of proof in settling a dispute related to this Act shall be borne by the employer.

CHAPTER V - Supplementary Provisions

Section 20 (Report and Inspection, etc.)

(1) If necessary for the implementation of this Act, the Minister of Labour may order the employer to submit necessary reports and other relevant documents, or the Minister may prompt the competent government officials to visit the workplace, interview relevant persons, and inspect documents.

(2) When making such visits as prescribed in sub-section (1), the competent government officials should display to the relevant person the identification card which establishes their official authority.

Section 21 (Subsidy for Expenses)

(1) The State, local governments, or public agencies may provide a partial or whole subsidy for the expenses within the extent of their budget for projects related to the promotion of women's employment and their welfare.

(2) The state, local governments or public agencies may revoke partially or wholly the decision to provide a subsidy and order the return of a part or whole of the subsidy, if a person received the subsidy under sub-section (1) in any of the following cases:

Section 21-2 (Delegation and Commitment of Authority)

The Minister of Labour may delegate a part of the authority under this Act to the head of the local labour administration and the local government or entrust such authority to public agencies as prescribed by Presidential Decree.

Section 22 (Enforcement Decree)

Matters necessary for enforcing this Act shall be determined by Presidential Decree.

CHAPTER VI - Penal Provisions

Section 23 (Penal Provisions)

(1) Any employer who violates the provisions of sections 6-2 (1) and 8 shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years or by a fine not exceeding five million won.

(2) Any employer who violates the provisions of sections 6, 6-3. 7, and 11 (1) and (3) shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five million won.

Section 23-2 (Fine for Negligence)

(1) Any person who refuses to submit the reports or relevant documents as prescribed in sub-section (1) of section 20, who submits false reports or documents or who refuses, interferes with and evades inspection under the same sub-section and section shall be subject to a fine for negligence not exceeding three million won.

(2) The fine for negligence under sub-section (1) shall be imposed and collected by the Minister of Labour as prescribed by Presidential Decree.

(3) Any person who is dissatisfied with the disposition of a fine for negligence under sub-section (2) may raise an objection against the Minister of Labour within thirty days after he is informed of the disposition.

(4) If a person who is subject to the disposition of a fine for negligence as referred to in sub-section (2) raises an objection under sub-section (3), the Minister of Labour shall notify this fact without delay to the competent court, which shall, upon receiving the notification, bring the case of fine for negligence to a trial under the Non-Contentious Case Procedure Act.

(5) If no objection is made or no fine for negligence is paid in the period as referred to in sub-section (3), the fine shall be collected according to the example of the disposition of the national taxes in arrears.

Section 24 (Joint Penal Provisions)

If a representative of a juristic person, or an agent, serviceman or employee of a legal person or an individual commits an offence as prescribed in section 22 in connection with the legal person's or an individual's affairs, the penalty of fine as prescribed in the said section shall be imposed on such a legal person or individual, in addition to punishment of the offender.


(1) (Enforcement Date)

This Act shall enter into force on the day of promulgation.

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