Bill would give day off for parents’ birthdaysA bill introduced to the National Assembly late last month would allow people to take off work to spend time with their elderly parents on their birthdays.
“Family units in Korea are becoming smaller while the country is entering a period of an aging population,” reads the bill proposed by Liberty Korea Party Rep. Kim Sung-won and 10 other lawmakers on May 31.
“Society is in need of a bill to encourage more people to take care of their parents. Therefore, we propose an amendment to the Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act.”
The amendment, if passed at the Assembly, seeks to add a clause to Article 22 clause 2 which states, “Where any worker applies for a temporary retirement in order to take care of his/her parents, spouse, sons and daughters, or parents of his/her spouse on grounds of their disease, accident, or senility, the employer shall grant it.”
“The amendment would add that workers be allowed to take paid vacation to celebrate their parents’ birthday, or a family get-together involving their parents,” the bill states.
A number of amendments to bills have been introduced at the National Assembly to improve the lives of the elderly. One of the first was introduced in 2015 by the Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Min Byung-doo, which sought to penalize people who received inheritances from their living parents in advance and refused to provide a minimum of financial assistance to their parents.
“Statistics out there say that some 10 percent of elderly parents have experienced abuse by their children,” Min said in a radio show in August 2015 when he was preparing the bill.
“And a lot of those cases happen after the parents have given their inheritances to their children.”
According to current laws, parents cannot reclaim their inheritance given to their children unless they commit a crime against the parents. Min tried to change this rule by adding a clause that states that parents can reclaim their inheritance if their children abuse or neglect them.
According to DP Rep. Park Wan-joo, who also introduced a similar bill in February 2018, there are about 2,300 lawsuits filed by parents every year to sue children who allegedly neglected to take care of their parents after receiving their inheritance.
None of these amendments have been passed at the Assembly.
Legal experts are divided on the issue. “I see a need for the government to interfere regarding this issue of family inheritance,” a senior judge told the JoongAng Ilbo. “It cannot be left for the families to resolve these issues on their own.”
“I am not sure if this is a legal issue at all,” said Jang Jin-young, a lawyer. “I think the fact that some parents are suing their children over inheritance says something about this society, that something is not right.”
BY HYUN IL-HOON, ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]