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Probation period
in South Korea.

SALARY PAYMENT IN South Korean Won (KRW, ₩)

CONTRACT LANGUAGES Korean / English

PAYROLL TAX 16.43% – 34.94%

PAYROLL CYCLE Monthly

TIME TO HIRE 24 hours

Probation period in South Korea – Overview

Employees in South Korea must complete a probation period when they begin employment. During their probationary periods, employees are not entitled to the same rights and benefits that an employee who has passed their probation period would be. In the following sections, we’ll delve into the specifics of probation periods in South Korea. 

What is the Standard Probationary Period in South Korea?​

The standard probationary period in South Korea is 3 months. 

What is Probation Period in South Korea?

While probation periods aren’t legally mandated in South Korea, they’re very common in employment contracts. The standard duration is 3 months, but there’s no legally defined maximum. This trial period gives both the employer and employee a chance to assess their fit for the role and the company culture.

During probation, employers can usually dismiss employees more easily if they don’t meet expectations. South Korean law requires a 30-day notice period for dismissals, but this is waived for employees within their first three months of employment (which typically aligns with the probation period). 

However, companies may choose to extend probation or provide notice even if not legally required. 

Video: Probationary Period

South Korean Employment Contracts and Probation Periods

In South Korea, probation periods and employment contracts go hand-in-hand. While there’s no legal requirement for probation, it’s a common practice included in most written employment contracts. The details of the probation period, including its duration, should be clearly outlined in the contract you sign with your employer. 

This ensures both parties are on the same page about the trial period and its expectations. Because the probation period is part of the legal agreement, both you and your employer are bound by its terms. 

Legal Rights of Probationary Employees in South Korea

Probationary employees are granted a number of legal rights to ensure their protection and fair treatment during the probation period. These rights are enshrined in the Labor Standards Act, which governs employment practices within the country.

Right to Wages

Probationary employees in South Korea are entitled to receive wages for their work, consistent with the terms laid out in their employment contracts. This must be at least the government-mandated minimum wage.

Social Insurance Coverage

Employees on probation are covered under South Korea’s social insurance schemes, which include national health insurance, employment insurance, and national pension. This ensures they receive the necessary social security benefits, such as medical care, income support in case of unemployment, and pension contributions, similar to permanent employees.

Safe Working Conditions

The right to a safe and healthy working environment is guaranteed to probationary employees, as per South Korea’s Occupational Safety and Health Act. Employers are obligated to provide a workplace that meets safety standards, reducing the risk of accidents or health issues.

Severance Pay Eligibility

While not universally applicable, some probationary employees may be eligible for severance pay if they have completed a certain period of service and their contract specifies such a provision. This is an important consideration for employees whose probationary period leads into continuous service with the same employer.

Anti-Discrimination Protection

Like permanent employees, probationary employees are protected against discrimination based on gender, age, religion, nationality, and other personal attributes. Employers must ensure equal treatment in the workplace, offering a fair working environment for all employees.

Notice of Termination

While employers don’t need to provide the standard 30-day notice period during the initial months of a probationary period, they still must have a valid reason for dismissal. Arbitrary termination is not permitted.

Legal Obligations of Employers in South Korea

Employers in South Korea have specific legal responsibilities towards their probationary staff. 

Employers are obligated to provide a safe working environment just like for any other employee.  Additionally, employers must enroll you in national health insurance, which covers medical expenses in case of illness or injury. 

Minimum wage laws still apply during probation, so you’re entitled to fair compensation for your hours worked. It’s important to note that probation shouldn’t be an excuse for excessive overtime. 

While termination during probation is easier for employers, they can’t fire you for discriminatory reasons. Probation should focus on assessing your work performance and suitability for the role, not personal characteristics.

Probation Periods: Optional but Beneficial in South Korea

Probationary periods are not mandatory inclusions in South Korean employment contracts. However, they are a widely accepted practice implemented by most companies. This trial period offers significant advantages for both employers and employees.

For employers, probation periods serve as a valuable assessment tool. They can evaluate an employee’s skills, work ethic, and cultural fit within the company. This allows them to make informed decisions about keeping the employee on board for the long term and reduces the risk of a bad hiring decision. 

Employees also benefit from this trial period. They gain valuable insights into the daily realities of the job and can determine if it aligns with their career goals and expectations. 

Ultimately, probationary periods function as a bridge between initial recruitment and permanent employment, allowing both parties to ensure a good fit before fully committing to a long-term working relationship.

Optimizing Probationary Period in South Korea

To manage employees effectively during the probationary period in South Korea, employers should:

  1. Set Clear Expectations: Clearly outline job duties, performance criteria, and evaluation methods from the start.
  2. Provide Regular Feedback: Offer constructive feedback regularly to guide the employee’s performance and development.
  3. Support and Resources: Ensure access to necessary training and mentorship to aid the employee’s growth and integration into the company.
  4. Legal Compliance: Adhere to South Korea’s labor laws regarding the probationary period to ensure fairness and legality.

By focusing on these key areas, employers can create a supportive and clear framework for evaluating new hires during the probationary period.

Hiring in South Korea, Made Easy

Your business can easily hire employees in South Korea without opening a local entity. We handle local employment law, complex tax regulations, and international payroll in 180+ countries worldwide. All you need to do is focus on your business.

FAQs

30 days’ advance notice is standard in South Korea. Alternatively, employers can offer 30 days’ pay in lieu of notice

In South Korea, there isn’t a minimum notice period that employees must serve when resigning. Usually, the terms covering the notice period will be detailed in the individual employment contract, and in many cases, an employee will give 30 days’ notice in any case.

South Korean law does not provide for a maximum probationary period and there is no legislation preventing employers from extending the probationary period.

Yes. Furthermore, under Article 35 of the Labor Standards Act (1997) employers are not obliged to give a 30-day notice to employees who are in their probationary period. In fact, employers do not need to give any notice to employee who is on their probationary period.

In some cases, yes. When resigning during the probationary period, employees should abide by the terms of their employment contract. If the terms are not laid out in the  contract, then no notice is required for the employee to resign. Many employees will still give 30 days notice as a gesture to maintain good will.

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