The government on Friday will reduce penalties for companies that illegally employ foreign workers. The Ministry of Justice says companies breaking the law can now be re-issued licenses to employ foreign nationals immediately after paying their fines.
The current law states that businesses found guilty of hiring undocumented alien workers cannot employ foreigners for three years. Despite the stringent regulation companies were found to have employed foreign workers illegally even after they were prosecuted.
The Korea Times has more:
This softer policy comes at a time when small- and medium-sized firms are suffering from manpower shortages, but is contrary to its overall policy of reducing illegal immigrant workers.
Under the new rule, companies will face a one-year ban on hiring additional foreigners if they are caught employing illegal foreign workers. Currently, the ban is three years.
This rule will be applied retrospectively, making it possible for nearly 3,030 companies to hire foreign workers again this month.
"It will help ease the chronic workforce shortage at small companies," the ministry said. But side effects are expected as firms might hire more undocumented foreigners due to the lighter penalty.
The plan comes at a time when the government is facing growing criticism from small companies that say the drastic cut in foreign worker quotas earlier this year is a major culprit behind illegal employment.
In March, the Ministry of Labor slashed the number of work visas - H-2 and E-9 - issued to foreigners from 100,000 to 34,000, a measure aimed at providing more job opportunities for Koreans amid the worsening job market.