As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, people’s lifestyles are changing. People still visit marts in person to purchase daily necessities, but the rate of purchases through online is increasing. With the explosion of online orders, the number of couriers has increased tremendously. As the number of couriers increases, courier companies are booming. However, courier workers (delivery drivers) are struggling with heavy work.
Recently, overworked death of courier workers has occurred in succession, and it became a social problem. Since courier workers do not have limited working hours whereas regular workers do, they are inevitably exposed to heavy labor. In particular, due to COVID-19, as people buy through orders instead of directly purchasing goods, the number of couriers increases rapidly.
There are no restrictions on working hours and insurance benefits are limited for courier workers as they are “speical types workers” who do not correspond to workers under the Labor Standards Act. Under such conditions, the working conditions of the courier workers are inevitably poor, and they are bound to suffer from heavy delivery work. As the overwork of courier workers continues to occur, the political world has announced that it will enact the “Living Logistics Service Industry Development Act” in order to improve their working conditions.
It is desirable for them that the National Assembly will enact related laws for courier workers, but it is necessary to revise the Labor Standards Act to fundamentally solve the problem. Article 32 of the Constitution stipulates and guarantees labor rights. Especially, Paragraph 3 states that “the standard of working conditions is determined by law to guarantee the dignity of human beings.” It stipulates that laws for courier workers should be enacted.
The Labor Standards Act enacted in accordance with Article 32 (3) of the Constitution says, “the term ‘employee’ means a person, regardless of the kind of occupation, who offers labor to business or a workplace for the purpose of earning wages,” in Article 2 (1). Under the regulations, a worker is a person who provides work to a workplace for wage purposes. If this is strictly applied, the courier worker cannot be seen as a worker. That is why problems arise.
The workers prescribed by the Labor Standards Act will be defined by types, and in the case of special type workers, they shall also be granted legal status as workers under the Labor Standards Act and their labor rights shall be protected. In order to fundamentally solve problems of special types workers, the core laws and systems need to be improved, but creating only relevant laws is not a solution. As long as they provide labor, courier workers must also be recognized as workers under the Labor Standards Act to protect their labor rights. They must be protected by laws and institutions to ensure human dignity.
Kim Sang-kyum thomas@dongguk.
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