Maternity leave policy unveiled

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Maternity leave policy unveiled

Public institutions will hire as many as 1,000 new full-time regular workers to step in for employees who take maternity leave next year, a move the government hopes will both create new jobs and encourage workers to take off as much time as they need to raise a child.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said on Monday that public institutions will take the lead in improving attitudes towards maternity leave in workplaces nationwide by hiring full-time workers, rather than the part-time or irregular workers that have been hired to fill in for leaves lasting up to two years.

The ministry said the measure aims to encourage existing workers to take leaves without worrying about getting passed over for a promotion or losing their job entirely. It also hopes the initiative can help add new jobs to the stagnant labor market, as the full-time workers will keep their positions after other employees return from their leave, while also pushing the private sector to follow its lead.

Currently, only 60 percent of employees on maternity leave are replaced by even part-time or irregular workers, the ministry said. Its goal is to raise that to 80 percent.

The move comes at a time when the number of workers at public institutions taking maternity leave is on the up, climbing from 3,679 in 2011 to 5,183 last year.

In 2014, 2,135 workers, or 40 percent of those who went on leave, were either substituted by irregular workers or not replaced at all, the ministry data showed, increasing their colleagues’ workloads.

Public institutions haven’t been actively hiring part-time workers to fill in the vacant positions because there hasn’t been enough money in their budgets. When total labor costs exceed the limit set by the government, the particular institution loses points on the government’s annual performance assessment.

The ministry said the government will help public institutions increase their labor costs to cover the newly hired workers to substitute the working mothers on leave, helping each operate normally despite the changes to the workforce.

“The measures are expected to encourage more female workers to take maternity leave, while minimizing the impact of their absence,” an official said.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [song.suhyun@joongang.co.kr]

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