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S. Korea plans support for workers who cover for colleagues with kids

June 18, 2024 - 15:52 By Son Ji-hyoung
Children play in fountains in Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korea's Cabinet approved a bill Tuesday to reward employees taking up the duties of coworkers who work reduced hours for child care with government subsidies.

Effective on July 1, the revision will allow the government to make up for the employers' compensation to employees who handled the tasks of co-workers who, for example, leave the workplace early for child care purposes.

Moreover, parents of young children who work two hours fewer than the regular working hours every day in a workplace will be eligible for the same salary through the revision. Currently, a full salary was only available to those who worked up to an hour less than the regular daily hours, and those who reduced working time by two hours a day saw a 20 percent wage cut.

In Korea, parents with a child aged 8 or younger may apply for the state-backed policy for reduced work hours for child-rearing parents.

The revision of the Employment Insurance Act's enforcement decree was aimed at "alleviating the burden of both enterprises and workers," according to the government on Tuesday. The bill will also allow more workers to take advantage of the work-hour reduction policy for parents. The Labor Ministry proposed the bill in March.

This was one of the bills that gained approval on Tuesday at the Cabinet meeting presided over by President Yoon Suk Yeol.

In 2023 South Korea recorded a historically low birth rate of 0.72, as the figure has been on a downtrend for eight straight years. President Yoon has earlier hinted at launching a new ministry dedicated to handling the population crisis that comes from the low birth rate, and establishing a new senior presidential secretary post to address the problem.