Monday, 17 March 2014

Maternity Leave in Korea

Updated 5 October 2016

I've heard a couple versions about maternity leave, so I'm going to list them all from what I've heard is most likely to least likely. Laws here seem to change all the time. I would personally error on the side of caution. Here's what the laws say as far as employment insurance go. Here's some information in English and here's a five point summary of maternity leave.

You are entitled to shorter work hours if you're in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or if you are 36 weeks and beyond.

Version 1
Any woman (including foreigners) who has been at her job for at least a year prior to giving birth is entitled 90 days paid maternity leave (60 days are at full pay and 30 days are at partial pay, which is around 1.8 mil.). She gets 120 days if she has has multiple (i.e. twins or more). She must fulfill both of the following requirements:
  1. She's worked a year before she takes leave.
  2. She's paid into the unemployment scheme for at least 180 days (I'm not sure if you can make back-payments). The employer pays her and the ministry reimburses her employer.
Version 2
Any woman (including foreigners) is entitled 90 days paid maternity leave (60 days are at full pay and 30 days are at partial pay, which is around 1.8 mil.) (she gets 120 days if she has has multiple (i.e. twins or more) as long as:
  1. She's paid into the unemployment scheme for at least 180 days (I'm not sure if you can make back payments). The employer pays her and the ministry reimburses her employer.
Version 3
Any woman (including foreigners) is entitled to 90 days paid maternity leave (60 days are at full pay and 30 days are at partial pay, which is around 1.8 mil.) and there's no time requirement for work or paying into the unemployment scheme. She gets 120 days if she has has multiple (i.e. twins or more). One of two things happens:
  1. If she's paid into the unemployment scheme for at least 180 days (I'm not sure if you can make back-payments), then she'll be paid from that. The employer pays her and the ministry reimburses her employer. OR
  2. If she hasn't paid into the unemployment scheme, then her employer has to pay out of pocket and there's no reimbursement. 
The Reality
Unfortunately, few women actually take the entire time. Just like with paternity leave in Korea, some employers will simply tell you no out of ignorance while others will tell you no despite the fact that they know the opposite to be true. Many women have been forced to leave their jobs or have gotten fired for being pregnant in Korea. Whether or not you fight is up to you. Many Korean women don't take maternity leave, but rather quit and become stay at home moms. Or if they do take maternity leave, they don't take the full 90 days. Legally your boss has to allow it, however, I have known people who have . . .
  • not been renewed
  • not been paid during maternity leave
  • been made to pay their replacements
  • lost their jobs (legally they can't let you go 30 days after birth, after that it's fair game)
Bottom line: Have a back-up plan or two.

Additional Time Off: Parental leave
You can take up to a year off as unpaid leave (though here it says they get 40% of their base salary with a max of 1 mil won) known in Korea as childcare leave "육 아휴직". You can legally take up to a year of unpaid leave while your child is under 6 (72 months) providing you've been with the same employer more than a year. There is a grey area surrounding teachers who are on a one year contract that have been renewed.

Maternity leave advice on EPK!

Maternity leave advice on AFIK
Maternity leave advice online
General Legal Advice
  • American Embassy Lawyer List
  • Ask Korea Law
  • ATEK had a huge list of lawyers on their Legal Resource page but no longer exists and I don't know how to find the cache of this.
  • Korea Business Central
  • Korean Laws in English
  • Labour Board: 1350 and 031-259-0203
  • Legal Office for Foreign Teachers (LOFT) Facebook group. Be sure to check out the files.
  • List of Lawyers (LOFT) (Legal Office for Foreign Teachers)
  • Immigration: 1345. They're open from 9 to 5pm, but closed for lunch between 12-1pm. Press 1 for Korean, 2 for Chinese, and 3 for English. Have your ARC ready because you get faster service if you enter your ARC number. 
  • Kangnam Labor Law Firm
  • KLAC (Korea Legal Aid Corporation) 
  • Practical Advice for Legal Situations (PALS) on Facebook. Be sure to check out the files.
  • Seoul Bar Association on Mondays from 2:00 to 5:00 PM has free legal advice. To get there take the subway to Seocho Station on Line #2 to Seocho Station (224) and go out exit 7. The office is behind the Hyundae Gas Station. Tel: 3476-8080.  
  • Seoul Global Center: 02-2075-4138. They have lots of useful info about living in Korea. They can also exchange driver's license for Korean ones for Canadians. 
  • Union TNC, Seoul, Jongro-gu, kyong eun dong, SK Building, 1st floor, Office 113. (It's by Anguk Station).Tel: 02-318-5274; Email:uniontnc@gmail.com 

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