SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — Improved benefits and a shift in social attitudes towards childrearing have been two factors driving more South Korean dads to take time off work to be with their children.
Statistics disclosed by the Ministry of Employment and Labor on January 25 show a record-setting 12,043 working men in the private sector headed home on paternity leave last year, the first time more than 10,000 took advantage of the employee benefit since it was introduced in 1995.
Last year’s tally was a 58.1 percent increase over 2016′s 7,616. The percentage of parental leave take by men at 13.4 percent was also higher than the 8.5 percent in 2016.
On average, men took 6.6 months time off work compared to 10.1 months off for women. However, short-term parental leave was dominated by men, with 41 percent of dads taking three months or less compared to only 9.5 percent of moms.
From the data collected, it appears parental leave is an option more accessible to men employed at large companies (employers with 300 or more workers). Working men in this category constituted 62.4 percent of last year’s total.
This ratio may change down the road, however, as the numbers of SME-employed men working at companies with 10 to 30 employees and 30 to 100 employees that went on parental leave increased by 43.8 percent and 38.6 percent, respectively, from 2016.
The government has taken pains to encourage more men to take time off for childrearing. Currently, men who decide to take a second round of paternity leave receive a full month’s salary’s worth of stipends from the government for the first three months of leave.
The government has steadily raised the ceiling for paternity leave stipends. Last year, the amount was increased from 40 percent of salary to 80 percent with an upper limit of 1.5 million won from 1 million won.
This July, that ceiling is set to jump once again by 500,000 won to 2 million won. In keeping with the trend, 63.1 percent more dads (4,408) took advantage of this policy last year than in 2016 (2,703).
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)