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The NHRCK Calls for Action to Fulfill Migrant Farm Workers' Right to Life and Housing
Date : 2023.06.13 16:49:19 Hits : 576

The NHRCK Calls for Action to Fulfill Migrant Farm Workers' Right to Life and Housing


The Ministry of Employment and Labor has partially accepted the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Chairman Song Doo-hwan, hereinafter referred to as "the NHRCK") to prohibit by law the deduction of room and board expenses from foreign workers' salaries.

 

In September 2022, the NHRCK recommended to the Minister of Employment and Labor to ensure the right to life and housing of migrant agricultural workers as follows.

 

1) Take supportive measures to ensure that migrant agricultural workers live in dignity, health and safety, including the establishment of public dormitories, etc.

 

2) Prohibit employers from deducting room and board expenses in advance in order to comply with the principle of full payment of wages as stipulated in Article 43 of the Labor Standards Act.

 

3) Abolish the of the Ministry of Employment and Labor that allow room and board expenses to be deducted from the wages of migrant workers.

 

4) Establish reasonable standards for room and board by conducting an accurate research on the actual housing conditions provided to migrant workers.

 

In response, the Minister of Employment and Labor said that the Ministry of Employment and Labor pushed for a budget to support the rent of accommodation for foreign workers, but it was not reflected. However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and local governments have secured funding for dormitories for agricultural workers. The Ministry of Employment and Labor also responded that it is considering measures like granting benefits to local governments that improve the living environment, such as building public dormitories.

 

On the other hand, there is a concern that prohibiting the advance deduction of room and board expenses only for foreign workers may lead to different standards for wage deduction between Koreans and foreigners, which may hinder the uniform application of the law.

 

The Ministry of Employment and Labor has informed that it has formed a special task force, including workers' and employers' organizations, to discuss ways to promote the livelihood stability of workers and will consider revising the guidelines based on the results of future discussions.

 

The NHRCK reviewed the above response in March 2023 and concluded that the Ministry of Employment and Labor had partially accepted the NHRCK's recommendations.

 

Unlike domestic workers who have their own housing in Korea, the majority of migrant workers are forced to stay in employer-provided housing due to a lack of personal networks and language barriers.

 

The death of a migrant worker in March 2023 in substandard accommodation at a pigsty in Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do, shows that many migrant workers still fall through the cracks of the social safety net, with no guarantee of a healthy and safe place to live.

 

In order to protect the financial conditions of migrant workers and ensure their labor rights, the NHRCK recommended that the Act on the Employment of Foreign Workers be amended to establish the principle of full payment of wages and to prohibit advance deductions for board and lodging. But, Ministry of Employment expressed concern about the new prohibition and stated that it would consider revising the relevant guidelines.

 

The NHRCK reiterates its previous recommendation that it is necessary to accurately research the living conditions provided to migrant workers and establish reasonable standards for room and board in order to ensure their right to life and housing, and to encourage further implementation of this recommendation, the NHRCK issues this press release in accordance with Article 25 (6) of the National Human Rights Commission Act.

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