2-yr grace period to be sought for small firms from serious industrial accident penalties

SEOUL, An additional two-year grace period will be sought for small companies as the workplace safety law punishing employers for serious industrial accidents is set to expand to companies with less than 50 employees, ruling party officials said Sunday.

The decision was announced by the ruling People Power Party (PPP) following a consultative meeting among officials from the presidential office, the government and the ruling party at the prime minister’s residence in central Seoul.

Under the law, business owners or CEOs of companies with 50 or more employees are subject to at least one year in prison or up to 1 billion won (US$769,822) in fines in the event of deadly on-duty disasters caused by lax workplace safety measures.

For companies with 50 or fewer employees — which account for about 80 percent of all serious accidents — the government gave a grace period until Jan. 27, 2024. Companies with less than five employees are not subject to the law.

Under the latest decision, the party plans to push for a law revision giving a further 2-year grace period for companies with less than 50 employees, which number about 800,000 nationwide.

During the meeting, the sides also agreed to launch a pan-governmental task force tackling administrative network disruptions.

Last month, the Saeol administrative network, used by public workers, and the online Government 24 civil service portal had gone down for several days, causing massive delays in and disruptions to public access across the country.

Under the latest decision, the task force will come up with a comprehensive plan to prevent any recurrence of such problems on government administrative networks by January, the PPP said in a written briefing.

The upcoming plan would include initiatives to utilize private cloud services, establish a control tower overseeing related issues and conduct a blanket inspection of aged network equipment to enhance the management of public digital infrastructure, according to the party.

Source: Yonhap News Agency