Unemployment pay will see increase next year

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Unemployment pay will see increase next year

Jobless people in Korea will see their unemployment pay increase by up to 1.46 million won ($1,250) starting next year.

The maximum length of time someone can receive unemployment will also be extended by a month.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor announced on Tuesday that it will submit a revised bill on the Employment Insurance Act to the National Assembly, aiming to enhance social welfare for the unemployed to the level of other developed nations, as the country struggles with a high unemployment rate.

“We focused on securing the stability of living for unemployed people and enabling them to move on to new jobs,” Gweon Gi-seop, an Employment Ministry official, told reporters on Tuesday.

So far, unemployment pay has been 50 percent of the average monthly salary at the individual’s previous workplace. The ratio will be raised to 60 percent next year, which is higher than in several developed economies like the United States, Canada and Finland, and similar to Germany and Italy.

The payment period will also be extended to between 120 to 270 days since the person lost his or her job, according to the ministry. The current period ranges from between 90 and 240 days.

The average total unemployment pay, which currently stands at about 4.96 million won, will grow to 6.43 million won.

More elderly people will be also eligible for unemployment under the new law. So far, those who were 65 or older when they started working have not been eligible, even if they met all other requirements. But the new law is expected to benefit approximately 13,000 elderly who are mostly working as cleaners or janitors.

Still, the government will tighten requirements on the payment to prevent people from abusing the system.

“If the requirements for the payment are lax, some people could attempt to repeatedly receive the payment by quitting jobs frequently,” said Yun Hui-suk, a labor market specialist.

To prevent such cases, unemployment pay will be given to those who have worked for at least 270 days over the past 24 months, from the current regulation that requires a minimum 180 days over the past 18 months.

If a recipient refuses to get a job for 90 days while receiving unemployment, or receives unemployment three or more times over the past five years, he or she will be blacklisted by the government. The individual must then prove to the authorities that he or she is actively searching for a job.

BY KIM KI-CHAN AND KIM HEE-JIN [kim.heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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