중앙데일리

Gov’t to tighten older worker policy

정부, 공기업 일률적 정년연장에 제동
Rules will discourage state firms from keeping employees near retirement age

Feb 25,2010
Say goodbye to the days when landing a job at a state-run company translated into guaranteed employment until retirement.

The central government is intensifying pressure on state-run companies to shed more employees before they hit retirement age to open the door for younger workers, part of its efforts to prop up the job market. While officials have been moving in this direction in recent years, many companies have managed to sidestep the government’s directives by adopting a so-called wage peak system. The system essentially allows firms to offer workers employment until they hit retirement age or even later in exchange for drastic pay cuts.

Now, however, the Finance Ministry - alleging that state institutions are abusing the system, which was created to allow organizations to keep only a select few senior workers deemed absolutely necessary - is expected to unveil fat guidelines next month.

The government is hoping that the new guidelines will discourage state-run enterprises from taking advantage of the system to keep all their older workers on the payroll.

“Extending the retirement age for all employees can block new employment opportunities for youth and deal a blow to the labor market,” said one Finance Ministry official who declined to be named. “We are preparing guidelines to fend off thoughtless attempts to extend retirement ages.” The ministry, once a major advocate of the wage peak system, is encouraging state-run enterprises to adopt the rule selectively to ease the government’s financial burdens tied to the higher salaries of senior workers.

As of last June, 27 state-run companies - including the Korea Highway Corp., Korea Resources Corp. and the Korea Exchange - employed the wage peak system.

That amounts to 26 percent of the 101 state-run companies across the country, far higher than the 5.7 percent of private-sector companies that have adopted it. Korea Electric Power Corp., the state electric power supplier and the fourth-largest listed firm on the Seoul stock market, is also expected to embrace the system beginning in July.

The government said that most state-run enterprises that use the system are extending the offer of longer employment to all of their workers nearing the age of 55, regardless of their contributions and competency.

According to data from the ministry, 22 of the 27 state-run enterprises - or 81 percent - provide this option to all their employees near the age of 55.

The Finance Committee conceded last July that the system’s intended goal of cutting labor costs “seems to be very limited.”

Still, it said institutions should not abuse it.

“Giving the wage peak option to all employees is against the original intention of the system and does not even make sense,” said the senior ministry official.


By Jung Ha-won [hawon@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

선별적 정년연장 가이드라인 마련


정부가 임금피크제를 고리로 한 공공기관의 일률적 정년 연장 움직임에 제동을 걸고 나섰다.

기획재정부 고위 관계자는 23일 "일률적 정년 연장은 청년층 신규 채용을 막는 등 고용시장에 부정적 영향을 미친다"며 "임금피크제와 결부된 정년연장을 일정 부분 허용하되 무분별한 정년연장을 막기 위한 가이드라인을 마련하고 있다"고 말했다.

이 관계자는 "공공기관은 민간기업보다 고용 안정성이 높은 반면 고령자의 생산성은 떨어지는 것이 사실"이라며 "숙련도나 경력 등을 고려해 회사에 정말로 필요한 인력에 한해 선별적으로 정년을 연장하는 것이 필요하다"고 강조했다.

정부는 이르면 다음 달 초까지 공공기관 임금피크제 표준모델을 통해 임금피크제 자체는 물론 이와 연계된 정년 보장이나 정년 연장 방식에 대한 구체적인 지침이나 권고안을 내놓을 계획이다.

우선 임금피크제를 도입한 공공기관의 임금 인하율, 평균 보수수준이 제각각이라는 판단에 따라 전체 공공기관에 적용할 수 있는 임금피크제 가이드라인을 마련한다.

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