Probationary period

The probationary period, here, means a period that a company, after concluding a labor contract with a worker, sets a certain period of time to assess the worker’s aptitude for his job, train him to get familiar with the job, and etc.

Incidentally, the Labor Standards Act of Korea does not have an explicit regulation on this matter. 

The only article that mentions a probationary worker is the article 35 of the act.

Article 35 of the LSA

In the event of dismissal of an employee with any of the following status of employment, the employer is not obliged to give a 30-day notice.

– Daily employees who have not worked for a 3 consecutive months
– Employees hired for a pre-arranged period of time lasting 2 months or less
– Salary employees who have worked for less than 6 months
– Employees hired for seasonal work for a pre-arranged period of time lasting 6 months or less
– Employees under probationary period (of 3 months or less)

Most companies in Korea, based on this article, regulates in their rules of employment or individual labor contracts that probationary period shall be 3 months. 

1. What about making the period longer than 3 months? 

Again, no relevant article in labor law. 

However, an administrative interpretation by the Ministry of Labor says that the length of a probationary period is not restricted to 3 months but can be longer than 3 months  on the basis of nature of jobs and within reasonable bound. (February 9, 1993/Geungi 01254-221)

The interpretation also advises companies to have a relevant article in the collective bargaining agreement or the rules of employment. 

2. What about renewing or extending the probationary period? 

As can be expected, there is no mention on this matter in the law. Just an administrative interpretation by the ministry that extending the probationary period is not against law. (October 10, 1991 / Geungi 01254-14914) 

The conclusion is that an employer can decide on the length of probationary period as long as he/she considers it necessary for the purpose of assessing and training the worker but within the limit as can be reasonable and that such period should be stipulated in labor contracts, rules of employment to prevent any debate between a worker and a company. 


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