The Korea Herald


Tougher penalties for hiring illegal foreign workers

By 배지숙

Published : March 15, 2011 - 20:00

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Businesses caught hiring illegal migrant workers will be banned from recruiting any more foreigners for three years, in a government bid to deal with illegal immigration.

Korean employers found to have foreign nationals working for them illegally will get a warning the first time they are caught, but will receive the three-year ban the second time, the Ministry of Employment and Labor said Tuesday.

The regulation will come into effect on July 1.

The ministry also pledged to reduce the quota of foreign workers from countries from which nationals continue to work after their legal contracts expire in Korea.

The government said the illegal alien issue cannot be resolved while some businesses are still hiring illegal workers.

The number of people whose work permits will expire this year is 33,987, a sixfold increase from last year’s 5,224. The figure will jump to 62,178 next year.

The government predicted that a substantial number of these workers will stay in Korea illegally, working for people willing to employ them for cheap wages.

Last year, the Samsung Economic Research Institute said the number of illegal sojourners had risen by 50 percent in the previous three years and predicted there could be more than 45,000 of them in Korea by 2012.

The nation’s largest private research institute said, “The main reason for the increase of illegal sojourners is the lack of prize-or-punishment measures to enforce the regulations.

“The regulation does not mean that Korea will reject legitimate workers,” Han Chang-hoon, a ministry official said.

“The number of newly recruited foreign workers in Korea under the employment permit system is set at 48,000 this year, about 14,000 up from last year. We are expecting more workers to come and provide labor in the additional construction waste disposal and salt production sites,” he added.

By Bae Ji-sook (