Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Paternity Leave in Korea

Updated 5 September 2016

Yesterday I wrote about maternity leave in Korea. You have similar problems with maternity leave as with paternity leave. Although some employers will balk at offering you paternity leave, legally you are entitled to get it. 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. Sometimes they will try to tell you that Saturday and Sunday count towards paternity leave. Whether or not you fight it is up to you. Here's what the laws say as far as employment insurance go. Here's some information in English.

Legally you are entitled to 5 days paid paternity leave. You get 5 days. Some places only give 3 days since they don't know the law recently changed "Act on Equal Employment and Support for Work-Family Reconciliation Article 18.2" (Paternity Leave) and became effective August 2012.

Keep in mind that while legally you are entitled to paternity leave, they may decide that you can't get it at all, or that you have to pay for a replacement, or that fighting for paternity leave may cost you your job.

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.

Paternity leave advice on EPK!

Paternity leave advice on AFIK

Paternity 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. (Its by Anguk Station).Tel: 02-318-5274; Email:uniontnc@gmail.com 

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.




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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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.




Monday, 3 March 2014

Walking Out Hours After Giving Birth

Over two years ago I went to Rosa's clinic where I was going to give birth and asked how long I could stay after giving birth. Rosa told me I was allowed to stay a maximum of 8 (eight!) hours, but that most people stayed between 6-8 hours. My eyes nearly popped out of my head. I couldn't understand being forced to leave so quickly after pushing a human out of my body.

I then asked if they had any wheelchairs to wheel me out on after giving birth. Now it was Rosa's turn to look at me strangely as she told me I had to walk out.

Having second thoughts
I don't know. I'll be honest, at that point I was starting to think that I was getting into something that was over my head. I mean, come on, women usually stay 3 days after giving birth vaginally, 5 days if it's a C-section. And even then they're wheeled out.

Finding out about options
I started doing more research and eventually took a birthing class with Karen. I found out that not only was it possible, but it was something that most women around the world do. Think of women in the past, who were attended by women and who thought of birth as a natural process, not a huge medical procedure. (I do recognise the fact that not all babies can be born without any medical intervention, however, I think that the medicine profession has taken over the birthing process far too much) Think of the women in the Far East who leave the rice paddies, squat, birth their baby, and walk back to the paddies with their baby on their boobs. Or women who birth in the middle of a birthing pool in their living room surrounded by their whole families. They can do it, so why can't we?

Contrast that with what many women face as a reality of being strapped to the bed, not able to move, hooked up to a number of drips and drugs, being shouted at to push while the machines beep in the background, the doctor barely looking at you as he cuts the cord and leaves. It's all so impersonal, so cold. It's not the intimate, spiritual, and emotion journey that it should be.

My daughter's birth
I found a great doula, Casey, who helped me every step of the way. Stacy also attended my birth since she was shadowing Casey at the time. Although I didn't get the exact birth I wanted due to things beyond my control (my water broke 3 weeks early due to emotional shock), I was able to avoid most interventions and did walk out of the clinic a little less than 8 hours later.

I can't describe the high I felt. It was amazing. Even though I had been in labor for about 53 hours and spent the later 18 hooked up to pitocin I felt wonderful. I'd never felt so alive and full of energy. Not only did I walk out unassisted, but I was pretty much painfree other than the tugging I felt from the stitches. I wanted to walk out holding my daughter, but Rosa wouldn't let me. Still being able to walk out instead of being wheeled to the car was an incredible feeling.

The problem we have to deal with
Unfortunately we have Hollywood and the media to thank for our distorted views on birth that is so ingrained on us after years and years of watching tv. The number 1 surgery performed in the US is a C-section. Approximately 1 out of 3 babies in the USA (and Korea) are delivered via C-section. This number far greater than the WHO recommended rate of 10%-15%. which is about the same as the C-section rate in Korea. Sadly, many of these C-sections are unnecessary. One way to avoid C-sections is to stop unnecessary interventions.

More Resources for C-sections
You can change all that
There are a number of things you can do to get the birth you want. It's your birth, you should be able to choose what you want to do. Walking out shortly after giving birth is totally a possibility.


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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.



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