Gap Between Regular and Non-Regular Workers Getting Worse

      May 27, 2016 12:23

      The average monthly wages of regular workers increased W123,000 a month over the past year, but those of the growing army of non-regular workers rose only W44,000 (US$1=W1,183).

      The trend underscores a widening gap between regular and contract workers and bodes ill for hopes that more people will be able to land regular employment with proper benefits and job security.

      Statistics Korea on Thursday said the average monthly salary of regular workers stood at W2.84 million as of March, while non-regular workers made W1.51 million, a gap of W1.33 million. The wage gap has widened 6.3 percent from W1.25 million a year ago, twice Korea's GDP growth and inflation.

      Statistics Korea said the wage gap between regular and non-regular workers shrank 1.4 percentage points to 10.6 percent if differences in gender, age and educational levels are ignored. But in reality the difference in the money regular and non-regular workers take home continues to grow.

      The gap does not end at the paycheck. The average employment period for regular workers grew from 87 months to 89 months. But for non-regular workers it remained the same at 29 months, mainly because of a regulation that says they must be given a regular position after three years. Instead companies often fire and then rehire them.

      The proportion of regular workers who get bonuses rose from 84.4 percent to 86.1 percent, but among contract workers and temps it shrank from 40.7 percent to 40 percent.

      The proportion of regular workers signing up for the state pension plan grew 1.2 percentage points to 83.2 percent, but among non-regular workers it fell 0.2 percentage points to 37.5 percent.

      Meanwhile the number of non-regular workers mushroomed from 5.73 million in 2013, when the Park Geun-hye administration took office, to 6.15 million this year.

      The ratio of non-regular workers to all workers stagnated at 32 percent suggesting that government efforts to create more proper jobs have not been successful.

      Lee Jang-won at the Korea Labor Institute said, "There's a bigger difference in terms of working conditions between big businesses and small and mid-sized companies than in advanced countries, and the gap between regular and non-regular workers leads to a wide difference in the quality of jobs.

      Young people are shy of non-regular jobs and employment in small and mid-sized companies, but the number of regular jobs in big businesses has stayed much the same, leading to a soaring unemployment rate among young people (12.5 percent in February of this year).

      But a growing number of senior citizens are taking on contract or temporary jobs. People in their 40s accounted for the largest proportion of non-regular jobs until 2014, but now it is people in their 50s, and those in their 60s have overtaken 40-somethings.

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