The Real Condition of Labour in Seoul Immigrant Workers and The Protection Method for Labour Rights


The number of foreign residents in Seoul has steadily increased each year. According to statistics released by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs Status, the number of foreign residents in 2015, 457,806 people, was a 67.5% increase compared to 308,840 people in 2006. Among the foreign residents, immigrant workers, 116,817 people, also increased by about 2.9 times over 10 years. The increase of immigrant workers requires a more active policy by Seoul organizations associated with population, national competitiveness, and social issues.


The purpose of this study is to analyze the labour status of immigrant workers in Seoul and to establish a permanent support system for immigrant workers based on this study. According to the foreign employment survey in 2015, which evaluated the employment situation of immigrant workers in Seoul, the characteristics of Seoul immigrant workers differs from the characteristics of country immigrants.


In our study, the ratio of non-professional employment and marriage migrants was relatively low compared to the national ratio, while the ratio of foreign national Koreans and visiting employees (H-2) was high. Korean Chinese was the most common nationality, comprising 60.0% of the study population, and the highest proportion of immigrants were employed in the service industry. A large proportion of immigrant workers in Seoul had long working hours, 60 hours or more per week, and a serious wage gap existed between workers. Small business employment of immigrant workers in Seoul was higher than the national percentage and the labour contract period for these workers in Seoul was also shorter than the length of the national labour contract. Consequently, the proportion of temporary and daily workers with vulnerable employment was significantly higher than the national value.


The status of Seoul immigrant workers was further explored through a Focus Group Interview(FGI). The results showed that immigrant workers in Seoul were exposed to unfair treatment, infringement of workers' rights and safety threats related to wages, working conditions, labour rights, industrial safety, etc. Human rights violations and social discrimination were found to be serious problems in addition to employment difficulties. However, migrant worker support policies in Seoul have focused on support for multi-cultural families and foreign residents, so rights protection policies for immigrant workers are relatively scarce. The support policies for immigrant workers are implemented by 6 foreign employee assistance centers. The centers provide various services such as labour counseling for the protection of the rights and interests of immigrant workers, community support, medical care, education, and sociocultural events for immigrant workers. However, integrated services ranging from consultation to acquisition of rights are insufficient.


Therefore, supporting policies should be improved for the reinforcement of accessibility and professionalism, universal protection for the right to work, and the expansion of governance. In order to enhance accessibility, one-stop integrated services ranging from counseling to labour rights remedies should be strengthened. To improve the expertise with foreign workers, it is necessary to recruit full-time certified labour attorneys at foreign employee assistance centers and to establish support departments in Seoul for labour issues. Support policies should be applied equally to both immigrant and native workers to ensure universal protection for labour rights. It is also necessary to develop a system in which immigrant workers can participate directly.



01 Introduction

1_Background and Purpose of the Study

2_Main Contents and Research Methods


02 Policies Related to Immigrant Workers and their Current State

1_Concept of Immigrant Workers

2_System related to Immigrant Workers

3_Current State of Foreign Residents

4_Current State of Immigrant Workers


03 Analysis of Immigrant Workers in Seoul

1_Outline of the Survey

2_Result of the Focus Group Interview

3_Summary and Limits


04 The Current Condition of the Support Project for immigrant Workers in Seoul

1_Outline of the Project

2_Current Condition of the Main Project

05 The Policy Proposal

1_The Real State of Immigrant workers in Seoul and a Summary of the Current Condition of Support Policies for Immigrant Workers

2_The Improvement of the Support Policies for Immigrant Workers


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