I have been receiving again lots of emails from our dear Filipino readers regarding this so-called ‘EPS (Employment Permit System) Re-hiring Extension Program’ to be implemented by the South Korean Ministry of Labor and Employment starting this month.
So what is this EPS Re-hiring Extension Program all about and how does it affect the Filipino migrant workers here in Korea?
To answer the question and to satisfy some of the queries regarding this ‘new policy’ by the Korean government, I asked some of my friends at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul as well as some of the migrant centers near my place. I’ve also done a few researches online to justify some of the details forwarded to me by the friendly staffs at the Philippine Embassy and the migrant center volunteers.
So what I have learned in the past few days I have summarized below.
These are the present Employment Permit System policy:
1. The Employment Permit System of South Korea is the current system being used by the South Korean government, starting in 2004, to hire foreign workers to work in key industries wherein Korean manpower is lacking.
2. The labor contract between the foreign workers and their Korean employers are set up to 4 years and 10 months. This is for all EPS workers who entered South Korea this year.
3. If the foreign worker wishes to comeback to South Korea after their working contract had finished, he or she must wait 6 months before they can apply again for the Korean Language Exam (EPS-TOPIK) for their names to be included again in the foreign workers manpool list (a list where Korean employers gets their foreign workers through HRD-Korea).
Proposals/Amendments to the present EPS policies:
1. Qualified foreign workers under the EPS system have the option to take a special EPS-KLT exam after they finished their work contracts (lasting up to 4 years and 10 months).
2. This special computer-based EPS-KLT Exam, devised by the Ministry of Labor and Employment of Korea, eliminates the 6 month waiting period for returning EPS workers currently being implemented under the EPS policy for them to retake the EPS-KLT exam, to return and to be re-hired in the Employment Permit System. It also eliminates redundant processes for the returning workers such as pre-employment trainings, briefings, labor listings etc.
3. This is to ensure that all qualified EPS workers can efficiently re-enter and work in Korea after their last contract agreements. Minimizing the number of EPS workers choosing to illegally stay and work in Korea than to return home and wait for the 6 month deferring period before they can re-apply for the Employment Permit System again.
4. The returning foreign workers who qualified and passed the special EPS-KLT exam can return to their last workplaces (before their voluntary departure from Korea) as long as they worked there for at least a year and also the employer wishes to employ their services again.
5. There is an age limit for all returning foreign workers under this new policy, which is 38 years old.
6. As of this writing, the special EPS-KLT exam will have a test run in Vietnam and Thailand this month. The new policy is planned to be implemented as early as next year to other EPS Sending countries (including the Philippines) if the current preliminary exams brings positive results to the Employment Permit System.