4 in 10 female workers in Korea underpaid: OECD

Four in every 10 female workers in Korea are underpaid, and the proportion of underpaid female workers is the highest among the group of rich countries, data showed Sunday.

In 2014, 37.8 per cent of female laborers in Korea made less than two-thirds of median earnings, according to data by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This ratio topped the list among the 22 member countries of the OECD, and far outpaced No. 2 Ireland's 31 per cent.

In most developed countries, less than 30 per cent of the female labour force work in low-paying positions. The figure for the US tallied at 29.54 per cent, and the UK and Germany showed 26.99 per cent and 25.94 per cent respectively, according to the OCED.

Korea's ratio reached its peak in 2000 at 45.77 per cent, but has gradually declined to enter the 30 percentage range in 2011.

The OECD's latest data reflects that many working women in Korea are enrolled in temporary, menial, daily jobs, which pay less than two-thirds of median earnings.

"We must implement policies to support qualified women, who temporarily leave their highly-paid positions, to pick up where they left off," said Jung Sung-mi, a researcher at the Korea Labor Institute.

Meanwhile, the ratio of underpaid male work force in Korea totaled 15.4 per cent, ranking No. 11 among the 22 countries surveyed.

The large gender wage gap shows, women who leave their highly-paid post for marriage, child birth or child care face hardships when they later try to re-enter the job market in search for similar jobs.

As part of efforts to tackle the issue of female workers' career disruption, the government recently announced its plan to add to next year's tax reform, a policy to provide benefits for companies that hire women with discontinued careers.

Male laborers in Korea also recorded 36.65 per cent higher earnings than females in 2014, and this gender wage gap is the biggest among the tallied countries, the OECD said.