Three steps for maternity leave

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Three steps for maternity leave

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As our daughters grow up, they dream about becoming doctors and lawyers, and these girls often take leadership roles at schools. Women are given equal opportunities as men and get to display their talents and competence fully. Until women get married and have children, that is.

After a woman gives birth to a child, her life gets far more complicated. Maybe that’s why some women smartly avoid getting married and having children. Korea is the country with the lowest fertility rate in the world. The most serious and urgent issue for women is child care.

On June 6, two posters were put up at the entrance of the Saenuri Party headquarters in Yeouido, western Seoul. They said that the “five promises for family happiness” made by the ruling party for the general election are not upheld even within the party.

Upon completing the three-month maternity leave, a deputy director at the party office had requested a two-month leave. Her request was rejected and processed as unpaid leave. The labor union of the party office put up the posters to denounce the lack of understanding on social responsibility of maternity protection and child care.

When the story was reported by the media, the human resources team changed its stance and approved her child care leave.

The “five promises for family happiness” include helping working moms juggle child care and work, but only one of the officers at the party’s central secretariat, which created the pledge, has taken advantage of the leave. Among the 150 members of the union, none is using child care leave at the moment. How can the party make people happier when it neglects the happiness of its employees’ families? The Saenuri Party’s secretary general made a belated announcement that he would review the system to make sure people can take advantage of child care leave.

However, those who actually need child care leave complain that the system is useless. They fear that their requests may be rejected and negatively affect their employment.

Here is a good solution. Remember three easy steps: submit a request, put up a poster and make news. First, anyone who needs child care leave should submit a request. Second, see if it is approved, and if not, conspicuously put up a poster at the entrance. Third, media will immediately report the story. It sounds easy enough.

*The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Eom Eul-soon
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