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South Korean PM vows to expand paternity leave

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Staff writer ▼ | May 16, 2016
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn of South Korea vowed to expand paternity leave to boost South Korea's dropping birthrate and ease the burden of childcare.
Hwang Kyo-ahn
Asia   Establishing a work-life balance
The premier said he would put multilateral efforts into establishing a work-life balance in the country's often hectic work culture.

"We will increase the number of reliable childcare facilities and actively expand flexible working hours," Hwang said during a meeting with seven heads of local companies.

The top policymaker said the custom of people putting in long work hours should be improved and labor reform should take place to establish a fair personnel management system.

"(I) will put in all my efforts for labor reform bills to pass the parliament," he said, asking for the management circle's participation in establishing more balance between work and personal life.

The government plans to abolish the subsidy given to large companies for childcare leave and increase the subsidy given to small and medium-sized enterprises from the current 200,000 won (US$170) to 300,000 won.

The number of male employees taking paternity leave in South Korea last year came to 4,872, up 42.4 percent from a year earlier, according to government data.

Still the rate of men taking leave came far behind that of their female counterparts, only accounting for 5.6 percent of all 87,339 people who took time off to care for children.

South Korea's birthrate, or the average number of children born to each woman in her lifetime, stood at around 1.24 in 2011. This is much lower than the average birthrate of 1.71 tallied for all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.