Pregnant workers will get a break

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Pregnant workers will get a break

A 31-year-old surnamed Kim is more than excited these days as she waits for her baby daughter to be born next month.

But when she thinks about the months of hardship she had to endure while being pregnant and going to work, she sighs deeply. In the end, she left her job, thinking it was most important to look after herself and her baby.

“If I had more flexible work hours - without feeling uncomfortable going to the hospital for regular checkups on weekdays - maybe I would have not quit,” she said.

“But that [quitting] was the only choice I had in the early months of pregnancy because a life involving both work and pregnancy was difficult for me.”

As part of efforts to prevent women like Kim from dropping out of the work force and to create a friendlier environment for working pregnant women, the government yesterday announced a revised act on labor standards.

According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, from Sept. 25, women will be allowed to reduce their work days by two hours during the first 12 weeks and after the 36th week of pregnancy, and management must grant requests for the time reduction.

There will be no reduction in pay for time off.

“The change will be applied Sept. 25 for companies with 300 or more employees, while for those with less than 300 employees, change will take effect in 2016,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, the change in policy is intended to protect working women from problems related to pregnancy, such as miscarriage and premature birth.

“Although labor hours will be reduced, the management cannot cut wages,” it said. “If management doesn’t accept the request made by their working women employees, they will be fined up to a maximum of 5 million won [$4,641].”

BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]


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