Statistics Korea data shows that as of 2017, non-regular workers accounted for 49.04% of all paid workers in Korea, which means nearly 50% of the entire workforce is employed for non-regular positions. The percentage of non-regular labor has shown a steady increase for the last three years. Public institutions, too, are not an exception to this situation. The government has taken political measures to mitigate the polarization of society caused by the wage gap between regular and non-regular workers, although their effectiveness has not yet been felt.
The Moon Jae-in administration has promoted such policies as 'Zero Non-regular Workers at Public Institutions' based on its logic that public organizations have to take the lead in eliminating non-regular labor. Those policies, however, have been said to be impractical unless accompanying issues, such as social costs and other types of non-regular worker employment, are considered simultaneously. The 'zero non-regular workers' policy is still debatable in validity and legitimacy, and in fact, few empirical studies have been conducted on effects of the policy on public organizations.
Based on the question 'what effect does the proportion of non-regular workers at a public institution have on the organizational performance?' this study aimed to analyze the validity of the 'zero non-regular workers at public institutions' policy. As a result of the analysis, the percentage of non-regular workforce at a public institution did not have effect in the financial aspect. But the costs of welfare benefits affected the organizational performance: the costs, when becoming lower for non-regular workers but higher for regular employees, had more effects on the performance. This result reveals that like the circumstances in the private sector, the organizational performance in the public sector is positively associated with protection for regular employees and reduction in labor costs for non-regular workers. Public institutions with a lower proportion of non-regular workers, however, showed a higher performance in the non-financial aspect, suggesting conflicts between public interest and profitability of the public sector. These results of the study demonstrate that the government needs to seek ways to phase out the non-regular workforce system by taking into account public consensus and each institution's characteristics rather than persistently conduct an unbalanced transformation of labor policies and that the private sector also needs to take social responsibility in order to mitigate the polarization of society.