Minimum wage of South Korea set at 9,860 KRW in 2024

The Minimum Wage Board has set the legal minimum wage for 2024 at 9860 won, a 2.5% increase from 2023.
December 1, 2023

The Minimum Wage Committee confirmed the minimum wage of 9,860 won, a 2.5% increase in the legal minimum wage for 2024 compared to 2023, at the 14th meeting of all 26 members at the Sejong Government Complex on July 18.
In the case of working 40 hours a week and 5 days a week (209 hours of prescribed work), it is about 2.06 million won per month.

Let’s take a brief look at how the legal minimum wage is set and the minimum wage system in Korea.

1. What is a minimum wage system?

The Minimum Wage Act, which aims to contribute to the healthy development of the national economy by ensuring a minimum level of wages for workers, thereby improving the livelihood security of workers and the quality of labor force.

Minimum Wage Act, Chapter 1, Article 1 (Purpose)

With the above aim, the Minimum Wage Act enacted on December 31, 1986 first came into force on January 1, 1988. It can be seen as guaranteeing the minimum livelihood of workers by legally restricting payment of wages below the minimum wage.

2. Who is subject to the this system?

South Korea's minimum wage 2024

Subject to the Minimum Wage Act are “all businesses that hire workers.” It is applied regardless of employment type or nationality, such as regular and regular workers, fixed-term, contract workers, temporary and daily workers, part-time workers, part-time workers, students, and foreign workers.

South Korea's minimum wage 2024

However, it does not apply to business and domestic users who are relatives living together, nor does it apply to seafarers covered by the Seafarers Act and owners of vessels employing seafarers.
In addition, workers who are excluded from the minimum wage (those with significantly lower working capacity due to mental or physical disabilities) are classified as excluded from the minimum wage only after going through the approval process of the Ministry of Labor.

3. How is the minimum wage determined in South Korea?

According to Chapter 3 of the Minimum Wage Act, the Minister of Employment and Labor must decide on the minimum wage by August 5 every year. The Minimum Wage Committee, consisting of workers and employers, is asked to deliberate on the minimum wage by March 31 every year, and the Minimum Wage Committee begins discussions. After that, decisions are made and decided through repeated discussions between the employer and the worker.

The 2024 Minimum Wage Committee voted for 10,000 won per hour proposed by the workers’ committee and 9,860 won proposed by the employer’s committee, with 8 workers’ committee members, 19 users’ committee members, and 1 abstention, determined to be 9,860 won per hour.

4. Can the company give workers less than the legal minimum wage during the probation period?

Usually, the probation period is up to three months, and there is a grace period for new entrants to write down to work and organization. There is no problem with paying down to 80% of your salary within three months of the probationary period through a legitimate labor contract, but if the amount is less than 90% of the legal minimum wage, it can be a violation of the law.

Although it is possible to reduce the minimum wage by 10% to 90% of the legal minimum wage, there is also a caveat. Even if you are a probationary employee who has signed a labor contract for more than one year, you cannot reduce it to 90% of the minimum wage for simple labor. Even if it is a probationary period, you must pay 100% of the total.

  • Simple labor workers: In accordance with the notification on the designation of simple labor workers under Article 5 of the Minimum Wage Act (implemented by the Ministry of Employment and Labor’s notification on March 20, 2018), “a person who falls under the 9th ″ of the Korean Standard Classification of Occupations” is defined
  • Simple labor jobs related to construction and mining / simple labor jobs related to transportation (loading, loading, delivery, etc.) / Simple labor jobs related to manufacturing / Simple labor jobs related to cleaning and expenses / Simple labor jobs related to housekeeping, food and sales / Simple labor jobs related to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and other services.

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