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Greater Reforms for Promoting Work-Life Balance – Changes to the Gender Equal Employment and More

November 2019 - Employment. Legal Developments by Lee & Ko .

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Greater Reforms for Promoting Work-Life Balance – Changes to the Gender Equal Employment and Work-Life Balance Support Act

Starting 1 October 2019, employees would benefit from significant changes to the Gender Equal Employment and Work-Life Balance Support Act (“GEEA”), particularly concerning paternity leave and workhours reduction for childcare and family care. These changes are also expected to have material implications for employers with regard to general compliance obligations and require employers to review their practices in engaging employees and other workforce flexibility measures to adapt to the legislative changes. We have summarized the notable changes as follows.

1. Expansion of Paternity Leave

Current

Amended

• Employers are required to provide three (3) to five (5) of paternity leave, only the first three (3) days are paid.

• Employees must request for paternity leave within 30 days from the spouse’s childbirth.

• Employees must use the paternity leave in a single segment.

• Employers are required to provide at least ten (10) days of paternity leave. All ten (10) days are paid.

• Employees must request for paternity leave within 90 days from the spouse’s childbirth.

• Employees may use the paternity leave over two (2) segments.

Effective: 1 October 2019

These amendments would be inapplicable to (i) employees who had already begun his paternity leave before 1 October 2019, and (ii) employees whose right to request for paternity leave has expired (i.e., employees whose spouse have given birth before September 1, 2019). Qualifying employers may be eligible for government subsidy for the paternity leave benefit.

2. Expansion of Childcare Workhour Reduction

Current

Amended

• Employees may be entitled to childcare leave and/or a workhours reduction in lieu of leave for up to one (1) year combined.

• If an employee chooses workhours reduction instead of leave, his/her work hours may be reduced to fifteen (15) to thirty (30) hours per week.

• Employees are permitted to use up to one (1) year of childcare leave and up to a separate one (1) year of childcare workhour reduction.

• Of the one (1) year available for childcare leave, if an employee chooses workhour reduction instead of leave during that 1-year, this period of workhour reduction shall be treated separately and be added to the 1-year workhour reduction entitlement under the amended GEEA .

• If an employee chooses workhours reduction instead of leave, his/her work hours may be reduced to fifteen (15) to thirty-five (35) hours per day.

Effective: 1 October 2019


Under the amended GEEA, employees are entitled to up to one (1) year of childcare leave and another one (1) year of childcare workhour reduction for qualifying employees, providing two (2) years of childcare entitlement in total for working parents. Although the 1-year childcare leave period can be substituted with workhour reductions (for up to 2-years of reduced work hours), the 1-year workhour reduction period cannot be replaced with leave.

3. Expansion of Family Care Leave to include Family Care Day-Offs

Current

Amended

• Employees with more than one (1) year of service may use up to ninety (90) days of unpaid family-care leave per annum.

• Employees may request for unpaid family-care leave on the grounds of the family member’s illness, accident.

• Employees may use the family-care leave over multiple segments so long as each segment is at least thirty (30) days.

• Employees are entitled to use up to ten (10) days (“Family Care Day-Offs”) of the total ninety (90) days of family-care as single day-off, as opposed to the minimum thirty (30) days’ segments.

• “Childcare” is now a recognized ground for using the Family Care Day-Offs.

Effective: 1 January 2020

Prior to the amendment, the GEEA allowed Family Care Leave use in segments no shorter than thirty (30) days. However, the amended GEEA permits up to ten (10) days for use as single day-offs. With the ability to use up to ten (10) days as single day-offs, employees can benefit from family-care leave for emergencies such as a sick child or urgent parent-teacher conferences or other situations where 30 days is not required.

4. New Right to Request for Workhour Reduction

Under the amended law, employees will be entitled to the right to request for a workhour reduction on the enumerated grounds (e.g., family care, health, retirement preparation, or academic endeavor).

Current

Amended

Did not exist

• Employees may request for workhour reduction for enumerated grounds (e.g., family care, health, retirement preparation, academic endeavor).

• The employer must grant the request unless otherwise permitted to refuse under the law.

• Employees’ work hours during the workhour reduction period would range from 15 to 30 hours per week.

• The workhour reduction period can be up to three (3) years (1 year if the grounds for the request was to pursue academic endeavors). During this period, the employer may not unfairly change the employment terms, except for a proportionate reduction in benefits that are associated with work hours (e.g., salary).

Effective: 1 January 2020 (300 or more employees)
Effective: 1 January 2021 (30 to 299 employees)

Effective: 1 January 2022 (1 to 29 employees)

Potential Impact on Your Business

We strongly advise employers to review their existing practices and policies to ensure compliance with these latest amendments to the GEEA. We anticipate possible disruptions to the workplace due to the increased benefits – especially with regard to the securing adequate substitute personnel while the primary employees are on leave or under a reduced workhours period. Companies must, therefore, review their employee engagement practices to ensure proper temporary engagements as well as introduce workplace flexibility to ensure continued operations. Lee & Ko boasts a successful track record in addressing compliance issues upon legislative changes and offers versatile expertise in a wide array of HR compliance and associated matters. Should you need any assistance in this area of law, please do not hesitate to contact Lee & Ko.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact below:

Sang Hoon LEE (sanghoon.lee@leeko.com)

Chang Soo JIN (changsoo.jin@leeko.com)

Hyunseok SONG (hyunseok.song@leeko.com)

William KIM (william.kim@leeko.com)

For more information, please visit our website: www.leeko.com

http://www.leeko.com/newsl/labor/201910/labor1910_eng4.html