Seoul has announced the nation’s first comprehensive plan for the improvement of labor conditions for caregivers, based on the idea that the betterment of labor conditions for caregivers should be done first to enhance the publicity surrounding and quality of caregiving services for the elderly and the handicapped. The city will invest KRW 12.2 billion in four categories, focusing on the right to work and the right of health.
Caregivers are playing a pivotal role in giving the caregiving service in the rapidly aging Korean society as they professionally take care of the handicapped and the elderly. However, they are exposed to poor working conditions like unstable employment, low income, emotional labor, and health risks. The comprehensive plan was devised to improve the labor conditions of 84,000 caregivers working in Seoul and the quality of caregiving services.
A factual survey conducted by the city before setting the plan demonstrated that most caregivers are temporary, short-term workers and their hourly wage is lower than half of the average of those working in the field of healthcare and welfare services, amounting to only 39% of the average of those working in the industry. Due to a lack of substitute workers, most caregivers must work even if they are sick. These workers are exposed to the risks of infectious diseases through the course of directly caring for and moving the elderly or the handicapped with physical disabilities.
Until 2021, the city of Seoul will be pursuing the comprehensive plan for improvement of labor conditions for caregivers, which is comprised of four categories (① Guarantee of the right to work, ② support for healthy caregiving labor, ③ reinforcing excellent caregiving capabilities, and ④ promotion of communication and strengthening of management and supervision), eight policies, and 25 projects under the vision of “expanding good jobs for reinforcing the publicity of caregiving services.”
First, the city will develop the standard labor guidelines for protecting the right to work, which will be offered to each institution, and expand long-term caregiving institutions that will provide substitute workers. “Caregiving Service Academy for Caregivers” will be operated starting in 2020 to offer caregivers relevant knowledge so they do not have their right to work violated due to ignorance. Seoul Public Agency for Social Service will be established in 25 autonomous districts by 2021 to expand direct employment.
Second, the city will support the physical/emotional health rights of caregivers for sustainable caregiving services. Starting in October 2019, a free flu shot will be offered to all caregivers ages 64 and under working for the long-term caregiving institutions in Seoul.
Third, the city will increase the assessment items related to the betterment of labor conditions of caregivers in the index of “Excellent Seoul-type Caregiving Service Certificate,” which is given to excellent long-term caregiving institutions that satisfy the criteria for a good caregiving service set by the city, in order to induce voluntary participation from institutions. In addition, educational programs for job skill enhancement will be developed and provided for caregivers to improve their capabilities.
Fourth, the city will make efforts to strengthen the publicity surrounding long-term caregiving institutions in order to address the situation in which the industry is crowded with small-scale institutions because of the low entry barriers, leading to lower labor conditions of workers and the services.
The city will check twice a year whether those institutions will have used the “financial accounting system for long-term caregiving institutions” for transparent financial management. Plus, the “Seoul Long-term Caregiving Policy Committee” will be established and operated, in which the city, caregivers, caregiving institutions, and experts will participate to give advice on the related policies of the city.
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