SEOUL South Korea announced its latest measures to bolster youth employment on Wednesday, hoping that policies to curb delayed wage payments and unfair work practices would help young people struggling to find steady jobs.
The country's finance ministry said it would aim to amend employment laws to make it simpler to fine businesses if they failed to sign official employment contracts with their workers or if they paid inadequate wages.
The unemployment rate for South Koreans aged from 15 to 29 stood at a seasonally adjusted 10.4 percent in February, just a shade lower than the 16-1/2 year high of 10.6 percent seen in the same month last year.
The finance ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that youth unemployment could be blamed on "uncertainties inside and outside the country, soft consumption due to sluggish sentiment and corporate restructuring".
The government had said earlier this year it would announce new policies to help young people with employment by end-March.
After the amendment, businesses that pay workers less than the minimum wage will be subject to an immediate fine of up to 20 million won ($17,800) and those that do not sign a contract with their employees will also be fined up to 5 million won.
South Korea will also make information public on companies that do not abide by employment laws.
The country's businesses will also be discouraged or banned from requiring information on job applicants' parents. Many companies in South Korea currently ask for details on the jobs and financial assets of a candidate's parents, fuelling criticism that some can be favoured due to their family background.
($1 = 1,123.4000 won)
(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Joseph Radford)