Political Deadlock Continues Over Workplace Safety Law in South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Rival political parties in South Korea failed to reach an agreement on Thursday regarding the extension of a grace period for small businesses under the new workplace safety law. The Democratic Party (DP), holding the majority in the National Assembly, rejected the proposal from the ruling People Power Party (PPP) to delay the implementation of the Serious Accidents Punishment Act for companies with fewer than 50 employees.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the party has firmly decided against postponing the law, prioritizing worker safety. The act, which started last Saturday, holds company owners or CEOs accountable with a minimum one-year prison sentence or fines up to 1 billion won in cases of fatal workplace accidents. The PPP and President Yoon Suk Yeol criticized the DP's decision, arguing it neglects the livelihoods of people and impacts small businesses. The president urged agencies to devise measures to mitigate the law's impact and prevent workplace confusion. The PPP contends that the DP's stance will harm millions of workers and thousands of businesses. However, concerns about the law's clarity and effectiveness persist, as on-duty disasters have not significantly decreased, and there is ambiguity in the criteria for punishment.

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