The Korea Herald


Mixed reactions to increased welfare

By Suk Gee-hyun

Published : March 6, 2015 - 20:01

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Samsung Group last week announced it will further increase spending on employee welfare. The good news, however, was not entirely welcomed as it came after the group decided to freeze this year’s wages ― the first time in six years.

“We cannot say the expanded welfare has no link to the recent salary freeze,” said an official from the group’s flagship Samsung Electronics, declining to be named.

Under the new scheme, Samsung will offer widened welfare benefits, including more allowance to purchase Samsung-brand products online, more funding for health checkups and extended support for child education.
Kindergarten fees for workers’ children aged 5 will now be covered ― the previous eligible age was 6. Cancer examination costs also will be supported even for workers who take time off from work.

A 43-year-old Samsung employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to media, said he appreciates the company’s welfare programs despite the recent wage freeze.

“As the father of an 8-year-old, it lessens my burden to know that my company can cover certain living expenses such as buying home appliances and education,” said the Samsung official who is in his 13th year of employment.

But some workers, especially the younger generation, felt the extended benefits were introduced to replace wage increase.

“I sometimes have to work even on Sundays or holidays, which I feel will not be compensated with welfare benefits,” said another worker who has been employed since 2012.

“Who knows I may get fired even before my kid goes to college?” he said.

According to CEO Score, a Seoul-based research firm that tracks the country’s conglomerates, Samsung Electronics topped the list of top 10 companies that spent the most money on employee welfare.

The Samsung flagship unit spent 3.1 trillion won ($2.8 billion) in 2013, up 26.6 percent from the previous year. The increase is almost equivalent to the growth rate of the company’s operating profits that soared from 29 trillion won to 36.7 trillion won during the same period.

By Suk Gee-hyun (