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Once again, court orders menstrual leave payout

Jan 30,2008
A court announced yesterday it has ordered Woori Investment and Securities Co. to pay 1.42 billion won ($1.5 million) to its female employees who did not take menstrual leave although they were legally allowed to do so.
It is the third time in a year the Seoul Central District Court has made such a ruling.
Before the introduction of the five-day workweek in July 2004, Korean women were allowed one paid day off each month in menstrual leave. Now the leave is permitted, but unpaid.
The ruling applies to 822 former and current Woori employees.
“Menstrual leave is stipulated in the labor law for the health of female workers, who are physiologically different from men,” Judge Park Gi-ju said in his ruling. “It is also to protect the reproductive abilities of the female employees, so it cannot be seen as unreasonable discrimination against men. The right to take a day off for menstrual leave must be strictly protected. When a female worker does not take the leave and works on that day, she provided additional labor, so the employer must pay the allowance.”
The court said the amount of the allowance should be calculated based on the labor law and the collective bargaining agreement between the securities firm’s management and union.
The same court has announced two separate but similar rulings on this issue.
Last year, the court ordered the Bank of Korea to pay menstrual leave to 553 former and current female workers for the same reason. If the central bank decides not to appeal, it will pay a total of 1.74 million won to the plaintiffs.
The Seoul Guarantee Insurance Co. was also ordered to compensate its 277 female employees. Each employee will receive up to 3 million won.
A tsunami of female-friendly rulings happened after Citibank Korea lost in court and had to pay nearly 1.9 billion won in menstrual leave to 1,298 former and current female employees in 2006. At the time, the compensation was 1.44 million won for each person, covering a two-year period.
Encouraged by about 20 banks, Citibank appealed, but lost again. It decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Woori Investment and Securities Co. said yesterday it will not appeal, so payments will go out soon to the affected employees.
According to financial industry data, the nation’s banks and securities firms owe about 100 billion won in unpaid menstrual leave compensation.


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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