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5,000 women on maternity leave fired every year + Free childcare to be limited for housewives

5,000 women on maternity leave fired every year

By Kim Se-jeong for The Korea Times

Almost 5,000 female employees have been fired every year while on maternity or childcare leave since 2010, data showed Sunday.

According to the data submitted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor to Rep. Min Hyun-joo of the ruling Saenuri Party, 26,755 women lost their jobs while on leave for childbirth or childcare between 2010 and June this year.

The related law guarantees 90-day leave for childbirth, and up to one-year leave for childcare. Under the law, it is illegal to fire employees who are on such leave except for very limited cases such as a company closing down. [ Read more... ]

"This striking number is an example of how poor Korea's corporate culture is in terms of promoting balance between family life and career," Min said. "The government should come up with solutions so that this does not continue to happen."

Some 4,025 mothers were fired in 2010, followed by 4,990 in 2011, 5,665 in 2012, 5,665 in 2013 and 5,193 in 2014. Between January and June this year, 1,226 were fired.

Of them, more than 9,700 were fired due to firms' financial troubles. Some 1,700 lost their job because companies' relocated or changed their working conditions.

About 15,300 were dismissed because of "other reasons," which the companies did not specify.

"This contradicts the government policy to help female workers keep working through various measures for childbirth and childcare," Min said.

Helping workers attain a balance between work and family life has been the top priority for the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. This is part of measures to fight the nation's falling birthrate.

More women now return to work after having babies but many settle with one baby because of the poor environment for raising children and maintaining a career at the same time. This also pushes many single women to not marry or postpone tying the knot.

Free childcare to be limited for housewives

By Chung Hyun-chae for The Korea Times

The government is moving to limit the time non-working mothers can use daycare centers.

But the move has prompted a backlash from the mothers, who claim it is discriminatory.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Saturday that it plans to create tailored programs for both working and stay-at-home mothers.

According to the plan, non-working mothers can leave their children aged four or under at daycare centers for free for up to seven hours a day.

If they want to use the centers for longer, they will have to pay for the additional time.

Currently, children of either working or stay-at-home mothers can be left for up to 12 hours a day for free. [ Read more... ]

The ministry reflected this in its 2016 budget plan, and aims to implement it in July next year.

"We came up with the measure in order to improve the current free childcare program," a ministry official said.

If the new system is implemented, children who go to a daycare center at 9 a.m. should be picked up at 4 p.m.

"Given that non-working mothers' children stay at daycare centers for six hours and 56 minutes on average, the new policy should not cause a lot of inconvenience and trouble to them," the official said.

Exceptions will be made for families with three or more children, single-parent families and families with a disabled member. Housewives who are pregnant or are looking for jobs also can leave their children up to 12 hours as before.

Government officials say the time limit is necessary because many non-working mothers who do not need childcare service leave their children at the centers because it is free. They say the number of such hiked after the government provided free childcare programs.

However, the plan has sparked a backlash.

"The government discriminates against stay-at-home mothers," an Internet user wrote on the nation's largest online childrearing community. "Maybe it would have been better if I hadn't had a child but had focused only on my career. They treat non-working mothers as idlers who just spend time chatting at cafes."

"I don't know how to prove that I am working as a freelancer," another user said on the same community.

There is also a concern for loopholes as some housewives pretend to be working mothers.

"I know a mother who does not work actually but obtained a certificate of employment from the company her husband runs," a working mother, surnamed Kim, said. "There may be many such people. I wonder how the government can sort them out."

Countering the worries, the ministry vowed to detect such people, but did not say how.

The ministry also explained that the new policy would save 40 billion won from the childcare budget, and it would spend the money on better treatment to caregivers and improving the quality of child care services.
Tags: baby, current events, social issues

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