Gov’t names and shames firms for stiffing workers

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Gov’t names and shames firms for stiffing workers

The Ministry of Employment and Labor disclosed the names of 198 business owners who repeatedly failed to pay their employees on Monday and imposed restrictions, including limits on loan applications, to another 326 proprietors.

The people whose names were disclosed owed an average 99.1 million won ($93,000) in unpaid wages accumulated over the past three years. Forty-one of them owed more than 100 million won.

The 326 business owners who were penalized with restrictions owed an average 78.3 million won.

Manufacturing companies accounted for the highest number on the list, at 78, followed by construction with 39. By region, Gyeonggi and Incheon had the most with 77, followed by Seoul with 53. Gyeonggi and Incheon have the highest concentration of small factories in the country.

The names of the 198 business owners will remain on the ministry’s website until Jan. 14, 2021. The information includes their age, address and company. The offenders will also be limited from posting on popular job search websites like Albamon.

The other 326 people will have their names and businesses listed on the Korea Credit Information Services and have limited access to financial aid such as loans.

The government has been naming and shaming businesses that engage in wage theft since September 2013. So far, 1,534 names have been disclosed, and 2,545 have been penalized with restrictions.

The ministry said it would work on similar action against those who violate minimum wage laws.

Since a higher minimum wage took effect at the start of the year, many businesses have been laying off people or reducing hours to minimize costs. The most high-profile incident was the firing of 90 security guards at an upscale residential complex in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul.

With the administration of President Moon Jae-in promising to raise the hourly minimum wage to 10,000 won from the current 7,530 won by the end of his term, there has been growing concern about businesses reducing the number of hires.

In a news conference last week, President Moon showed no signs of backing down from his plan and argued that a higher minimum wage would contribute to economic expansion in the long run by putting more money in people’s pockets.

“Wages are the only means of livelihood for workers,” said Kim Wang, an official at the Ministry of Employment and Labor, “and we have to see late payment as a serious violation of the law, beyond moral criticism.”

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