Companies need to changeThe government yesterday announced plans to regenerate day care centers at workplaces across the country. We welcome the measures, which are aimed at easing regulations on day-care services for employees’ kids to make it easier to help families. Big companies have been required by law to set up day care centers since 1991, but only 39.1 percent of them currently meet the requirement due to overly harsh restrictions and the high cost of complying with them.
As a result, the government decided to provide large companies with substantial incentives, ranging from assuming a considerable part of the installation costs to easing regulations to allow day care centers on the first to fifth floors - currently they’re only allowed on the ground floor in case of fires - to granting extra benefits when companies construct new buildings. The government wants to raise the share of companies with day care centers up to 70 percent by 2017. It also plans to cover installation costs for small and mid-sized enterprises, which are not required to have day care centers in their workplaces. We hope the government’s measures achieve the desired results.
Minister of Gender Equality and Family, Cho Yoon-sun, has called for big businesses’ earnest participation in the government’s scheme to avert an unwanted rupture of companies and women with kids and to nurture a family-friendly working culture. Whether the government’ initiative will succeed eventually depends on companies’ cooperation.
Many companies have complained of the increasing costs after the drastic shift in the government’s policies for career women. According to a recent survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on companies’ attitudes toward the compatibility of work and home, only about 30 percent had a truly positive attitude about the issue even when 90 percent recognized the need to harmonize the two realms.
But the trend around the world is toward a system that enables work to be compatible with raising kids. In Korea’s case, that should go a long way to address the dilemma of low birth rates. Korea has a long way to go before it evolves into a mature society where both moms and dads can take parental leaves. It is time that companies change their sensibilities when it comes to the question of harmony between work and a happy family life at home.