In the first half of 2018, 8,463 men in Korea took paternity leave. According to government figures (via Yonhap), this is a 66 percent increase in the number of men who took paternity leave when compared to the first half of 2017.
This continues a trend that has seen the number of men taking paternity leave shoot up in recent years. In fact, even though the statistics only cover half the year, more men have already taken paternity leave in 2018 than any other year, except for 2017, when around 12,000 men took leave. Based on the current pattern, 2018 will smash this record.
Men in Korea are entitled to up to one year off from the time their children are born to the age of eight. During this time, the government will pay up to 1.5 million won for three months of leave, according to Yonhap.
The statistics show that those who work in large companies make up almost 60 percent of the total number of people taking paternity leave. Although, the number of men taking paternity leave who work in mid-size companies of between 100-300 employees grew 94 percent in the first half of 2018.
The government hopes that by encouraging more men to take time off to care for children, Korea’s birth rate will begin to improve. According to Statistics Korea, in 2017, less than 400,000 babies were born and Korea’s birth rate fell to 1.05. This was the third lowest in the world after Taiwan and Hong Kong.
At the beginning of July 2018, the government announced further policies to help out couples with newly born children. This included a reduction in the cost of outpatient hospital treatment for children under one-year-old and the ability for parents with children under the age of eight to take up to an hour a day off work without losing pay.
However, it isn’t all good news. In late July, The Korea Herald reported on a survey by the Ministry of Welfare that suggested 60 percent of parents felt uneasy about asking for parental leave and that 65 percent of those surveyed were not familiar with the paternity leave program.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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