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10 more days of family care leave granted for struggling working parents

Sept. 7, 2020 - 12:44 By Ko Jun-tae
Lawmakers at the first plenary session of the National Assembly this month vote Monday on the passage of a legislative revision that extends the family care leave days from the current 10 days per year to up to 25 days in case of national emergency. (Yonhap)
Working parents will be allowed to take up to 20 days off from work for family care leave, up from the current maximum 10 days under a bill that passed the National Assembly on Monday. Five more days are granted for single parents and underprivileged families on top of the 20 days of leave.

Lawmakers voted to approve the revision aimed at allowing an extension to family care leave for parents raising young children in case of national emergencies such as the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and similarly serious situations. The revision takes effect immediately.

Employees can request the extension when the alert level is raised to “serious,” when their family members are confirmed with the novel coronavirus, if their children’s schools are closed or if their kids are required to be under quarantine or suspended from attending school.

Under the current law, workers are allowed up to 10 days of paid leave a year to care for their children. An extension was called for since the coronavirus outbreak was prolonged as many day care centers and kindergartens were forced to close longer than expected.

According to the Labor Ministry, 40 percent of 118,891 workers with 10 days of paid family leave had already spent their allotments during the virus outbreak. Another 15.7 percent of the workers had spent between 6 and 9 days.

The revision allows for employers that intentionally disadvantage workers going on extended family leave to be penalized with a fine of up to 30 million won ($25,300) or three years in prison. If an employer doesn’t grant the request from an employee, a fine of 5 million won could be levied.

But the extended days will be spent as unpaid leave, as lawmakers worry about extended off-days posing a financial burden to employers.

By Ko Jun-tae (