By Kim Da-ye
Caddies, parcel delivery men, insurance salespeople and artists will be able to subscribe to unemployment insurance beginning as early as 2016, the labor ministry said Tuesday.
Employment and Labor Minister Bang Ha-nam reported Tuesday the expanded coverage of unemployment benefits and other steps for reaching the goal of a 70 percent national employment rate to President Park Geun-hye.
The government identified six jobs for those newly eligible for unemployment benefits ― caddies hired by golf courses, parcel delivery men, quick delivery service couriers, insurance salespeople, tutors working for after-school study material publishers and concrete-mixer truck drivers.
These employees work and get paid similar to the self-employed, and cannot currently subscribe to unemployment insurance. The labor ministry estimates some 444,000 work in these jobs.
The question is who will pay for the insurance. The government said it will discuss the issue with unions, businesses and political parties in the first half of 2014 and come up with a revision to the Labor Law in the second half.
Employees on a regular payroll currently pay half of the insurance fees ― 0.65 percent of the wage ― and employers cover the other half. The self-employed pay full insurance premiums on their own.
Some 5,500 artists recognized under the Welfare of the Artist Act will also be eligible to unemployment benefits, but will have to pay 100 percent of the insurance fee.
The ministry will also make it easier for the self-employed to subscribe to unemployment insurance. The self-employed are required to subscribe to the plan within six months from registering their businesses.
Currently, insurance contracts are also subject to lapse when insurance fees go unpaid for three consecutive months. The grace period will be extended to six months.
Another strategy included in the annual plan is introducing retirement pension plans for small and medium-sized businesses with 30 employees or less in order to make those companies more attractive to young jobseekers.
New businesses will have to provide retirement pension plans. The state-run Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service will manage assets for firms with 30 employees or fewer.