Over 450 South Korean Organizations Fail to Meet Disability Employment Requirements

SEOUL - The Ministry of Labor in South Korea reported on Wednesday that a total of 457 public organizations and private companies have not met the required disability employment standards. Notably, Prada Korea was cited for having no disabled employees for more than a decade.

According to Yonhap News Agency, under the 1991 Act on the Employment Promotion for People with Disabilities, public institutions must ensure that 3.6 percent of their workforce comprises individuals with disabilities. For private firms, the required rate is slightly lower at 3.1 percent. Non-compliance with this regulation results in a fine, known as the handicapped employment levy, which amounts to a minimum of 1.2 million won (approximately $922) for each unfulfilled employment position. However, critics argue that this fine is insufficiently deterrent, leading many organizations to opt for paying it instead of meeting the employment quota.

The list of non-compliant entities includes 29 public institutions and 428 private firms. Public institutions that failed to reach the 3.6 percent disability employment threshold at the end of 2022 and private companies with 300 or more employees, with disabled workforce rates below 1.55 percent (half of the 3.1 percent requirement for corporations), were identified.

The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials, the National Fire Agency, the county governments of Ulleung and Bonghwa, and the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science are among the public institutions cited. On the private sector side, 25 affiliates of conglomerate groups, including LG Management Development Institute, Asiana IDT Inc., and Kolon Pharma, were listed.

A total of 65 entities, such as Ssangyong Engineering and Construction Co., Citibank Korea, and Dongguk University, have appeared on this annual non-compliance list for ten consecutive years. Notably, four companies, including Prada Korea, AstraZeneca Korea, Sindoh, and Kumsung Publishing, reported a zero percent employment rate for people with disabilities.

Prada Korea, in particular, has not employed any individuals with disabilities for over ten years, despite having a workforce of 733 at the end of 2022, which obligates it to employ at least 22 disabled individuals. In contrast, Zara Retail Korea Co., the Korean branch of the Spanish clothing chain, managed to achieve a disability employment rate of 2.7 percent within a year after previously having a zero rate, as noted by the ministry.

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