SEOUL, Feb.22 (Korea Bizwire) – As many Koreans are becoming more aware of the need for improved welfare programs, businesses are coming up with new policies to help improve the quality of life of their employees. However, many employees seem to be uncomfortable using the new benefits.
One example is menstrual leave. Although female employees are permitted to take a day off once a month when they are menstruating, most feel burdened if they take a day off.
According to a survey conducted on 500 women between the ages of 20 to 39 by Dong A Pharmaceutical and the research platform Open Survey, most respondents answered that even though menstruation interferes with their performance at work, they felt uneasy taking advantage of the menstrual leave, which is guaranteed by law.
Among the respondents, 46.6 percent answered that they were ‘influenced greatly’ by their period, and 19.4 percent answered that they were ‘extremely influenced’.
The inconveniences that were pointed out by the respondents were ‘pain’ (44.2 percent), ‘displeasure’ (18.6 percent), and ‘mood swings’ (15.6 percent).
However, most respondents didn’t feel comfortable using their menstrual leave, because other people were using it (41.7 percent). Also, they thought that their company would not approve of them when they took menstrual leave (32.3 percent).
Another well-intentioned but rarely used welfare policy is the designation of one day every week when employees can head home once their regular work hours end.
Working overtime, usually unpaid, is common practice in Korea. While there are cases when employees actually have work to finish, sometimes employees stay at the office simply because their bosses are still there. Many fear that if they leave on time, they might be thought of as someone that ‘doesn’t work hard’.
To resolve the uneasiness, some workplaces are taking steps to make it easier for their employees to leave work on time.
The district office of Seo-gu in Gwangju has started designating one day every week when the director goes home as soon as work hours are finished.
Executives decided that if they went home on time, employees could also go home on time and spend more time with their families.
While the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is adopting laws to promote a social environment in which families can spend more time together, and renewing legal provisions that allow both men and women equally to have a balance between work and life, some still question the efficacy of the new policies.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)