Many jobless foreign workers here are failing to claim unemployment benefits even though they have paid for the insurance as they are unaware of the system. A group of 20 foreign workers in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province held a press conference Tuesday to urge the government to publicize the system.
They said they feel unfairly treated by the government when they are laid off or fired by their employees. The Ministry of Labor sends notices to Korean nationals' registered addresses so that they can collect the unemployment benefit when they become jobless. However, the ministry does not inform foreign workers of the benefits, citing obscure addresses and a lack of information.
Foreign workers must find a new workplace within two months or they must leave the country under the Immigration Control Act. ``As they are preoccupied with looking for a new job, many migrant workers miss chances to file for their unemployment benefits,'' Kim Hyung-min of the Gyungnam Migrant Worker's Counsel Office said. ``Migrant workers often do not exercise their rights, while they are forced to do all the obligations.''
Most migrant workers do not know that they are qualified to receive unemployment benefits, said an official of the Seoul Migrant Workers Center. ``We have not received any requests regarding unemployment compensation,'' he said.
Unemployment benefits are given to the unemployed who have paid employment insurance premiums, have worked more than 180 days at a workplace during the last 18 months, and have lost their job involuntarily.
According to ministry statistics, 4,100 migrant workers have subscribed to unemployment benefits, but only 18 of them received compensation. The unemployment insurance is mandatory for Korean natives, but optional for foreign workers since January 2006.
``The notice to receive unemployment compensation is sent to the recipient's address,'' a labor ministry official said. ``However, many foreign workers addresses are unclear and the notice might not have reached to them.''
The counsel office said it will help foreign workers to receive their unemployment benefits by filing applications to the ministry in cooperation with other organizations for foreign workers.