Rep. Lee Jong Bae of Chungju, a member of the National Assembly’s Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Committee, said that the bill to partially revise the Foreign Employment Act passed the plenary session on March 24th.
Since the pandemic began last year, it has been difficult for foreign workers (especially those with E-9 visa) to leave Korea and come back. In fact, many “sincere workers” who need to go back to their home countries before starting again have not been able to come back to Korea. They are supposed to be away only for three months but most Korean Embassies are not processing work visas for EPS workers. The Korean SMEs (small medium enterprises) then lose their experienced foreign workers.
If the bill is approved, it would mean that foreign workers in certain industries such as construction, service, agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and even mining could stay for one more year if they have difficulty entering and leaving the country due to the spread of infectious disease (such as the COVID19 pandemic) or natural disasters.
Some industries in South Korea has a serious need for manpower due to the increase in minimum wage and decrease in the availability of local manpower.
Let’s hope that this bill will be signed into law as it will benefit both the workers and the Korean SMEs alike.