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South Korea

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This content is for informational purposes only. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this content. It is not legal advice and shall not be relied on as such.

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₩ (KRW)

Work Hours


The Republic of South Korea is located in eastern Asia. The official language is Korean with roughly four different dialects spoken regionally throughout the country. South Korea is a major G-20 economy and is regarded as one of the most industrialized countries in Asia. Investments in education have transformed the work force to one of the most efficient in the world.

Employment contracts in South Korea must be in writing and detail the terms of employment, including the number of work hours, holidays, paid yearly leave, work conditions, salary and payment terms. Although the agreement does not have to be in Korean, it is recommended. Employment contracts can either be for an indefinite term or definite term. Fixed-term employment contracts cannot exceed two years. Employers must provide the employment contract to the employee and may be liable for penalties if they fail to do so.

The standard work period in South Korea is 40 hours a week and eight hours a day. Employees receive a 30-minute unpaid break for every four hours worked and one hour of unpaid leave for every eight-hour work shift.

Employees in South Korea can work overtime up to an additional 12 hours per week, with the agreement of both parties. Employees in some industries may be able to work more than 12 hours of overtime with approval from the Minister of Employment and Labor. Employees are entitled to a wage increase in excess of the standard rate for working on holidays, overtime work and night work. Night work hours are between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Employers can also provide an employee with leave instead of overtime pay.

Employers in South Korea are not required to provide employees leave for non-work-related illnesses or injuries but may choose to provide sick leave. Employers must provide paid leave for work-related illnesses or injuries.

Female employees receive 90 days of maternity leave in South Korea, or 120 days for twins or multiple births. Female employees are required to use at least 45 consecutive days of maternity leave after the birth, or 60 days in the case of twins or multiple births. Employees receive 100% of their salary while on leave. The leave is paid for by the company or employment insurance fund depending on the company’s size. Generally, the employer pays for the first 60 days. Female employees are also entitled to leave for medical appointments during the pregnancy. Female employees who are mothers to children below one year of age receive a break of at least 30 minutes twice in a workday to breastfeed.

Male employees receive 10 days of paid paternity leave in South Korea. The paternity leave must be requested within 90 days of the birth.

Bonuses are not required.

Employees in South Korea receive 15 days of paid annual leave after one year of service. Employees then receive an additional day for every two years of service, up to 25 days. In their first year of employment, employees can take one day of paid leave per month, but this will be deducted from the following year’s allocation.

In South Korea, the public holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day

  • Seollal

  • Independence Movement Day

  • Children’s Day

  • Buddha’s Birthday

  • Memorial Day

  • Liberation Day

  • Chuseok

  • National Foundation Day

  • Hangeul Day

  • Christmas Day

South Korea's universal healthcare system is called the National Health Insurance Program.

An employment contract in South Korea may be terminated at the end of a fixed-term contract by the employer, the employee, or by mutual agreement. Employers can only terminate their employees for a justifiable reason attributable to that employee or an urgent managerial necessity, which can include layoffs. Employers must provide employees 30 days of notice prior to their dismissal or pay in lieu of notice. The dismissal must be in writing and include the reason for dismissal and the date. The written dismissal can be provided at the same time of notice, but no later than the date of dismissal.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

  • Partner with atlas logo

    Partnering with Atlas when expanding into South Korea can dramatically reduce the standard brick and mortar processes of doing business in foreign markets and allow you to focus on what you do best, growing your company! To discover more about how Atlas can simplify your ability to expand globally, please feel free to contact us.

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