South Korea plans to allow both parents paid parental leave for 18 months.
Introduced on Monday, the plan was introduced as an attempt to reverse South Korea’s declining birth rate. In 2022, South Korea’s birth rate dropped to a record-low of 0.81. The birthrate for countries to maintain their population size without migration is 2.1.
According to South Korea’s Department of Labor Minister Lee Jeoung-sik, the plan will increase the time for paid parental leave from 12 months to 18 months for each parent, reported Yonhap News. With the option available to both parents, Lee stated, “Women will no longer face concerns regarding career interruptions.”
In addition, the plan will allow parents to take paid parental leave up until the child is 12 years old. Other incentives included shortening working hours for parents responsible for childcare.
If successful, South Korean men will receive the longest paid paternity leave in the world.
However, the plan fails to address growing fears surrounding parental leave and its impact on working individuals.
According to Hangyung, employees of larger companies faced a “disadvantage” after taking parental leave. As a result, although 193,000 men were eligible for paternity leave in 2022, only 4.1 percent used the opportunity.
In contrast, 65.2 percent of women eligible for maternity leave chose to take the option.
In addition to increased parental leave, the plan also aims to address the participation of the elderly in economic activities, increase opportunities for foreign workers (E-9 visas) to 110,000, strengthen unemployment benefits and implement policies regarding workplace incidents.
On the same day, the Ministry of Labor announced their upcoming “Risk Assessment” system — first introduced in 2013 — which would attempt to prevent industrial accidents by identifying risk factors in the workplace and establishing improvement measures.