I can’t even use parental leave, but is it possible to work at home during the childcare period?

I can’t even use parental leave, but is it possible to work at home during the childcare period?

Direct presidency of President Yoon’s ‘lower level’

President Yoon Seok-yeol speaks at the Presidential Committee on Low Fertility and Aging Society held at the Blue House on the 28th. Reporter Kim Chang-gil [email protected]

Working hour reduction increased to ’12 years old’
Income preservation support ‘2 hours’
3-fold expansion of care service households

In the “Policy Directions and Tasks for Low Fertility and Aging Society,” announced on the 28th, the government focused on advancing solutions to low birth rates, rather than coming up with “special measures” ordered by President Seok-Yeol Yoon to relevant ministries. There are also many policies that have been issued hastily without examining the specific direction or policy effectiveness in detail.

The purpose of President Yoon’s presidential campaign pledge, ‘work-from-home system for childrearing’, is to guarantee working parents time to be with their children. The government plans to prepare a legal basis for diversification of work types, such as flexible adjustment of commuting time along with telecommuting. In addition, in order to promote the use of telecommuting by companies, we are reviewing measures to support labor management consulting, related infrastructure construction, indirect labor costs, and reward companies that take the lead in policy activation.

Expand the reduced working hours system for childcare. The applicable child age standard will be raised from the current 8 to 12 years old. The reduced work period is also being reviewed to increase from 24 months per parent to 36 months. In order to compensate for the reduced income due to reduced working hours, the wages supported will increase from the current one hour per day (100% of the normal wage) to two hours from next year.

The government has also come up with a plan to reduce medical expenses by lowering the co-payment rate from 5% to 0% for inpatient treatment of children under the age of two. For premature babies under the age of 2 or children with congenital abnormalities, medical expenses will be supported for up to 2 years of age, regardless of the income level of their guardians.

Expand the scope of support in the field of child care and education. In order to help raise children at home, the scale of child care services, which are in short supply compared to demand, will be greatly expanded, and the number of eligible households will triple from last year to 78,000 households by 2027. In line with the promotion of the reservation integration policy that integrates the kindergarten and daycare system, it is decided to expand more than 500 national and public daycare centers a year, as well as win-win workplace daycare centers operated by large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises. The ‘parental leave and parental leave (3+3) system’ only suggested the direction of expanding incentives, but did not announce specific plans.

Two-and-a-half-year-olds play at a daycare center in Gocheok-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul.  Kyunghyang Newspaper data photo

Two-and-a-half-year-olds play at a daycare center in Gocheok-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul. Kyunghyang Shinmun data photo

Yoon ordered ‘special measures’
There is no specificity like the ‘parental care system’
Expansion of existing policies, question of effectiveness

Questions are also raised about the effectiveness of the introduction and expansion of the telecom/short work system during the childcare period. This is because only a small number of workers properly use parental leave, which has already been established. Last year, the number of parental leave users per 1,000 workers was 6.9 for small and medium-sized businesses and 13.7 for large corporations. Currently, the punishment for employers who refuse to use parental leave is only a fine of 5 million won or less. At a preliminary briefing held on the 27th, Kim Seong-ho, head of the Employment Policy Office at the Ministry of Employment and Labor, said, “We plan to conduct an intensive inspection in April and a comprehensive fact-finding survey for work-life balance from August.”

President Yoon personally presided over the meeting of the Low Fertility and Aging Society Committee (low and senior) that day. It is the first time in seven years that the president, who is the chairperson, presides over a lower level. The lower level is a presidential committee, chaired ex officio by the president. However, in the process of establishing the Basic Plan for Low Fertility and Aging Society, which has been prepared every five years, it has hardly exercised its authority. Vice Chairman Na Gyeong-won, who was appointed at the end of last year, left the post after two months after political controversy.

This time, as President Yoon personally took care of the meeting, observations were made that the low-ranking officials would take the lead in establishing countermeasures for low birth rates in the future. The low-ranking officer prepared for the meeting by holding an emergency meeting with experts, a meeting with ministries, and a meeting with young people and parents in succession. An official from the presidential office said in a briefing after the meeting that day, “We plan to thoroughly evaluate over 200 existing department store-style policies based on scientific grounds and select effective ones to reduce the overall number of policies and restructure them.”

Although the government announced various countermeasures on the same day, some doubt whether it truly has the will to solve the problem of low birth rates. It is also insisting on labor policies that are far from measures against low birth rates, such as the ’69-hour work week’.

Park Min-ah, co-representative of Political Mothers, said, “The direction of guaranteeing parenting and caring time for caregivers by working from home is welcome, but it contradicts the policy of increasing working hours to 69 hours a week, which is a fundamental problem that causes low birth rates.” said.


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