After the East Asian financial crisis in late 1997, the number of non-regular workers in South Korea has increased dramatically. As country's economic inequality continues to grow, the non-regular workers struggle to make a living due to low income and employment instability. To improve their employment stability, the Korean government implemented three labor laws to protect the non-regular workers in 2007. These laws limit the employment period of the fixed-term workers to a maximum of two years and prohibits discrimination against non-regular workers in wage and various fringe benefits. Here, I evaluate the impact of the 2007 non-regular workers employment protection laws on eliminating discrimination on non-regular workers’ training. The training not only determines the current labor status but also improves the employability of workers in the future. In other words, if vocational training is given differently, it could lead to the long-term exclusion of vulnerable groups. Thus, I investigate whether the non-regular workers protection laws contribute to providing equal training opportunities regardless of labor status. I analyzed the panel Tobit model reflecting the variation of implementation time according to the size of establishments by using the workplace panel survey. Despite the implementation of employment protection laws for non-regular workers, the training opportunity gap has continued. Of course, in the early days of small businesses, the gap narrowed, but a few years later these companies also have reduced training opportunities for non-regular workers. Notably, the discrimination against non-regular workers is more pronounced in establishments with unions. For the regulations to achieve its original purpose, it is necessary to rule on the part of the use of non-regular workers. Representation of non-regular workers in unions should also be improved.
Dr. Hyejin Ko is Senior Researcher at Social Welfare Research Center, Seoul National University, South Korea. Her works focus on developing ways to build a fiscally and politically sustainable welfare state by conducting comparative studies on the structure of the welfare spending and taxation, and the impact of welfare and labor market policies. Her published articles on this topic include “Revisiting the Effectiveness of the Employment-Oriented Welfare State: Considering the Quality of Employment Achievement” (2017) and “Empirical Analysis of Fiscal Soundness and Public Social Expenditure: A Lesson for the Future Direction of the Korean Welfare State” (2014). Dr. Ko received her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Seoul National University, South Korea.