Global Compliance Desk – South Korea

Amendment to Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act 

On August 2, 2019, the South Korean National Assembly, made a few legislative changes that extend entitlements to paternity leave and childcare leave and grant employees the right to time off in order to provide support to pregnant and child-rearing workers.

Paternity Leave – Effective date: October 1, 2019

Earlier, the Act stated that a male worker could take paternity leave for 3 to 5 days, and the first three days could be paid leave if he fulfilled certain eligibility criteria. The male worker also had to request the leave within 30 days from the birth of the child.

As per the amendment, the employers are required to guarantee 10 days of paid paternity leave. Additionally, employees will be able to make the request to use paternity leave within 90 days after the delivery date. In addition, the new law allows a male worker to divide the leave period and take it on two separate occasions.

Childcare Leave & Reduced Working Hour Effective date: October 1, 2019

Earlier, an employee with a child who is either 8 years old or younger, or who is in the second grade or below in elementary school, is entitled to 1 year of childcare leave and reduced working hours, combined, which can be used all at once or split between two separate periods. Hence, an employee who uses 1 year of childcare leave is not entitled to any further period of reduced working hours for childcare, for the same child.

The amendment has increased the period of reduced working hours for childcare. Workers may request their employer to decrease their working hours to between 15 and 35 hours per week, except in special cases. The duration of reduced working hours can be for up to 1 year. However, when workers have used none or only part of their one-year parental leave, the remaining portion can be added to the period of reduced working hours. Thus, workers may reduce their work hours for up to two years.

Family-Care Leave – Effective date: January 1, 2020

As per the current act, an employee had to use a minimum of 30 days at a time out of the 90 days allowed per year.

As per the amendment, of the 90-day family-care leave entitlement, the new amendment will allow employees to use up to 10 days each year on a single-day basis. Besides, it will also expand the scope of ‘family’ so employees may use family-care leave to look after a grandparent or grandchild. An employer can only refuse an employee’s request to go on family-care leave or request a change in the leave period on a restricted basis.

The effective date of this measure is based on the size of the organization:

  • From January 1, 2020, for employers with 300 or more employees and most governments invested or government-controlled employers;
  • January 1, 2021, for employers with 30-299 employees; and
  • January 1, 2022, for employers with fewer than 30 employees.

Conclusion

All employers should be aware of these recent amendments and ensure that they are prepared to comply with the changes after they become effective.

Shreya Bhattacharya
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shreya Bhattacharya
A labor and employment lawyer at Replicon who specializes in global compliance. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. Replicon is an industry leader in global compliance and has a dedicated team which pro-actively monitors international labor regulations for ensuring proper adherence with specific country rule requirements.
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