Last Updated March 08, 2019

Law and Practice

Authors



Yoon & Yang LLC (Seoul - HQ) 's Employment and Labour Practice Group consists of 17 attorneys and other professionals who all concentrate solely on employment issues. The type of issues that the Practice Group has recently represented are illegal worker dispatches, discriminations among different type of workers, implementation of performance-based salary system, protection of non-regular workers, and ordinary wage issues. The firm's key areas of practice are general HR issues, including performance-based salary systems, labour union activities, collective bargaining agreements and disciplinary regulations, employment issues in mergers and acquisitions, employment issues on corporate restructuring, representation in labour disputes in civil, criminal and administrative proceedings.

Employees

Korean labour laws do not forbid or restrict non-solicitation clauses that prohibit former employees from soliciting other employees who remain employed with the former employer. Therefore, employers may include such non-solicitation provisions within their employment contracts, and require their employees to pay liquidated damages pursuant to Article 398 of the Civil Act for a breach of such an agreement. In addition to liquidated damages, employers may seek civil damages for breach of contract if the employer suffers ascertainable damages from the employee’s breach.

Non-solicitation clauses can also trigger issues regarding trade secret infringements under the Trade Secret Act. The Korean Supreme Court has held that, where a person who acquired technological information which qualifies as a trade secret moves to another company and attempts to disclose and use such trade secret at such other company, then such act constitutes violation of the confidentiality obligation under Article 2.3(D) of the Trade Secret Act. Further, the company that recruits such person is in violation of Article 2.3(A) for unlawfully acquiring a trade secret.

In such a case where a former employee and/or another company misappropriates trade secrets, a person (including employers) may request the court for a prohibition or preventive order against any person (including employees) who infringes or is likely to infringe trade secrets, if the business interest of the employer who possesses the trade secrets suffers damages or is likely to suffer damages due to such infringement (see Article 10(1) of the Trade Secret Act). Further, Article 11 of the Trade Secret Act provides that a person who damages the business interest of another person who possesses trade secrets through an intentional or negligent infringement of trade secrets is liable for compensation for such damages.

Customers

It is difficult to deem a former employee’s solicitation of their former employer’s customers as an infringement of trade secrets within the meaning of the Trade Secret Act.

However, the Korean labour laws do not forbid or otherwise restrict an employer from requiring its employees to sign an employment contract that includes a non-solicitation clause which prohibits those employees from soliciting the employer’s customers upon termination of the employment relationship. Further, as mentioned above, employers may require employees to pay liquidated damages, under Article 398 of the Civil Act, for breach of such non-solicitation clause. In addition to liquidated damages, employers may seek civil damages for breach of contract if the employer suffers ascertainable damages from the employee’s breach.

Yoon & Yang LLC

ASEM Tower, 517 Yeongdong-daero
Gangnam-gu
06164
Seoul
Korea

+82 2 6003 7000

+82 2 6003 7800

yoonyang@yoonyang.com www.yoonyang.com
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Authors



Yoon & Yang LLC (Seoul - HQ) 's Employment and Labour Practice Group consists of 17 attorneys and other professionals who all concentrate solely on employment issues. The type of issues that the Practice Group has recently represented are illegal worker dispatches, discriminations among different type of workers, implementation of performance-based salary system, protection of non-regular workers, and ordinary wage issues. The firm's key areas of practice are general HR issues, including performance-based salary systems, labour union activities, collective bargaining agreements and disciplinary regulations, employment issues in mergers and acquisitions, employment issues on corporate restructuring, representation in labour disputes in civil, criminal and administrative proceedings.

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