Confusing laws overlapAre golf caddies self-employed entrepreneurs or wage-earning employees? The Fair Trade Commission began enforcing an inspection guideline this month to protect special service workers such as caddies, visiting teachers, insurance sales people and truck drivers.
The commission intends to punish companies that have contracts with these workers and abuse them by breaking laws, forcing the workers to meet sales targets or purchase their products. The commission is meddling with these workers because the antitrust agency regards these workers as self-employed entrepreneurs, not as wage-earning employees. The commission does not regard special service workers as employees, but says they do their own contracting businesses. Thus the antitrust laws apply to these workers.
In contrast, the Labor Ministry considers them as employees. The legislative proposal to protect these types of workers is pending at the National Assembly. The legislative proposal guarantees three major labor rights, including collective bargaining rights. The Fair Trade Commission treats the same types of workers as self-employed entrepreneurs, while the Labor Ministry sees them as employees.
The commission and the ministry are both government organizations, but have not agreed on the nature of workers they intend to protect and are going their own ways. Without making an adjustment or agreement within the government, they are trying to demonstrate benevolence. Even so, they insist that their law should be prioritized. This is lamentable.
In the meantime, the companies suffer. For an identical incident, these workers can bring a case before the commission as a self-employed worker or present a case to the National Labor Relations Commission as employees. It is obvious that there would be confusion in application of the law in many different businesses. It is questionable if such laws indeed protect the rights of these workers. As seen in the breakdown of the non-regular workers protection law, if the unreasonable, overlapping laws are enforced, it is likely to take jobs away from these workers. The laws designed to protect may become a cause of future dispute.