The number of men taking paternity leave in South Korea surged 47 percent last year from a year ago amid increased government support for fathers to be involved more in childcare and aid national campaign to fix the world’s lowest birth rate.
According to data released by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of workers that went on parental leaves reached 99,199 last year, up 10.1 percent from a year ago. By gender, the number of female workers taking leave gained 4.4 percent to 81,537, whereas the male number jumped 46.7 percent to 17,662.
Although mothers accounted for more than 80 percent of workers who went on maternity leave last year, an increasing number of fathers are also taking part in childcare with the figure increasing by 40 percent to 50 percent in recent years.
Data showed that 4.7 percent of employees with children aged up to 8 years old requested childcare leave, with 64.5 percent of them using leaves to look after their babies aged one and under. It also showed that 7.4 percent of parental leaves were used by workers with children aged 6 years old as they enter elementary school.
According to Statistics Korea data, 65 percent of workers on parental leave were from big companies with 300 or more employees. A majority of them were engaged in public administration, defense, and social security administration industries. Data also showed that 79.1 percent of employees continued to work for the same company for one or more years after returning to work in 2017, up 2.3 percentage points from the previous year.
The number of workers who applied for shorter workhours to look after their children jumped 35.4 percent last year from a year ago to 3,820. Under the country’s shorter workhour system, employees with children aged 8 and under can work 15-30 hours per week for less than one year.
Meanwhile, more Koreans are placing importance on work-life balance.
A survey conducted by Statistics Korea this year showed that 44.2 percent of workers responded both work and family life are important while 42.1 percent prioritized work over personal life. Almost 14 percent said family life is more important.
Separate data also showed that the employment rate for men reached 70.8 percent last year and for females 50.9 percent. The employment gap between single men and women was 1.6 percentage points while 27.6 percentage points for those married ones.
A total 1.699 million women were on career breaks as of the end of April, of which 19.2 percent were married women aged 15-54. One of the biggest reasons for a career break was childcare (38.2 percent).
Last year, employees worked for an average 41.5 hours per week and 1,967 hours per year, down 29 hours from the previous year but still higher compared to major Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
By Lee Eun-joo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]