The government will push to expand the coverage of unemployment insurance from as early as 2016 in an effort to better protect jobless non-regular workers, the labor ministry said Tuesday.
In a 2014 policy report to President Park Geun-hye, Minister of Employment and Labor Phang Ha-nam said the measure will benefit particular types of irregular workers such as insurance agents, tutors and golf caddies as well as artists.
Workers of six non-regular jobs -- insurance agents, tutors, golf caddies, parcel delivery service workers, remicon truck drivers and quick-service workers -- have been excluded from various social benefits because they are classified neither as self-employed workers nor employees even though they work under contract with companies.
Artists such as writers, painters and singers are also presently not covered by the unemployment insurance.
Officials expect more than 450,000 people, including about 5,500 artists, will benefit from the policy, if introduced.
The government also will introduce a new retirement pension fund for employees of small companies with 30 or fewer workers that experience financial difficulties in introducing retirement pensions for their employees, according to the ministry.
Under the system, companies will be guaranteed higher interest rates than at banks for their reserves for retirement allowances if they don't withdraw the money for a certain period, the ministry said.
"We will remove the blind spots in the unemployment insurance and reduce the gap of pension benefits during old age whose amount depends on the size of the companies they worked at," Phang said in the report.
The government said it plans to revise related laws in the second half of this year after discussing details of the plans with representatives from labor and management. The plans will then be able to come into force as early as 2016, if the process goes smoothly, according to the ministry.
In addition, the ministry said it will continue to make efforts to attain President Park's goal of hiking the country's overall employment rate to 70 percent by encouraging more young people and women to get jobs.
For this, the government will soon prepare a three-year plan to improve the country's job training system, modeled after Germany and Switzerland.
The government plans to introduce a system in which high school graduates get certified for certain jobs after working and receiving training at companies they choose for up to four years, according to the ministry.
South Korea's overall employment rate came to 64.4 percent last year, falling behind the 64.6 percent yearly goal. Also last year, the rate of employment among young people fell to 30 percent for the first time ever. (Yonhap)