South Korean Parental Leave Trends Change



A Ministry of Employment and Labour research states that South Korea’s citizenry used parental leave 3.9% less frequently in 2023. On the other hand, more people are embracing flexible work schedules, which is in line with evolving family care laws and labor market trends.

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There were 126,008 people who chose to take either a mother’s or a father’s leave last year, up to 5,076 the year before. A fall in newborns of 8.1% is one reason for this decline. Men made up 28% of the leave takers, while women made up 72%. Though it has been steadily rising in recent years, the percentage of men taking paternity leave had a minor drop from 28.9% in 2022.

The survey indicates that 67% of parental leave was utilized within the first year of the child’s life. On average, men took 7.5 months off, while women took 9.5 months off for caregiving.

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In contrast, there has been a notable increase in the use of the program for decreased work hours. 23,188 parents choose to use this option in 2023, a 19.1% rise from the year before. Employees can work 15–30 hours a week under this scheme, which gives them more time to devote to childcare duties.

Parents who used the reduced work hours system cut down on their weekly work hours by an average of 12.4 hours, suggesting that they preferred flexible work schedules.

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The Ministry of Employment and Labour has started to revise policies to better accommodate flexible work schedules and maternity leave in response to changing family care needs. One of these adjustments is an increase from the current one-year provision to a maximum of one year and six months of parental leave entitlement. According to the Korea Herald, they have reported that the maximum time for utilizing the reduced work hours scheme will be extended from two years to three years.

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