South Korea introduces enhanced child care leave provisions

Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

South Korea has introduced child care leave, allowing parents to take up to a year of unpaid leave if they have a child under 8 years old, as reported by SHRM.


This initiative aims to address South Korea’s low birth rate, with the hope of encouraging fathers, in particular, to take time off after their children are born through financial incentives. 


Parents can also opt for reduced hours and pay for up to a year, with the possibility of extending to two years if they choose to convert some of their leave to reduced hours.


Compensation for the unpaid leave is done with government subsidies through employment insurance, and these subsidies have recently been expanded in Korea. 


The wage replacement is determined by the employee’s earnings, but there are relatively low wage caps which means that employees on child care leave are unlikely to receive their full salary during that time. 


Enhanced subsidies are available if both parents take leave within the first year after a baby’s birth, aiming to incentivize fathers to take leave alongside mothers. 


If both parents participate, they may qualify for higher subsidy ceilings, with specific restrictions in place.


Employers have a legal obligation to consider and accommodate requests for adjustments to work hours or other measures to support child care needs, as refusing accommodations could result in legal repercussions, as seen in recent court cases. 


Offering flexible work options is also suggested for employers as an offering to provide additional support to working parents.

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