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Maternity leave

What is maternity leave?

All pregnant women are entitled to a leave of absence to prepare for, and recuperate from, the birth of their child. A minimum of 45 days must be granted both before and after birth, totaling 90 days’ paid leave. This leave of absence should start approximately 45 days prior to the expected date of birth. If the birth is delayed the employer must still provide at least 45 days worth of payment after the birth of the child, in order to allow the employee to recuperate.

Furthermore, if an employee is pregnant for 16 weeks or more, has an abortion, or gives birth to a stillborn child, then, depending on the length of the pregnancy, the employer must provide 30 to 90 days’ leave of absence.

Eligibility for Paternity Leave

Since 2008, companies are legally obligated to permit males with pregnant spouses paternity leave. The period of paternity leave is three days. An employee must apply for paternity leave within 30 days of their spouse giving birth. Payment for the duration of leave is not mandatory for male employees. If a company refuses to grant leave, it may be fined up to 10,000,000 won, or the person responsible may be sentenced to 2 years in prison.

Maternity leave pay period and amount

A worker at an enterprise who is eligible for preferential support upon giving birth to a child should be paid 90 days’ of wages from the employment insurance. The first 60 days are to be calculated based on the regular wage by the employer. The remaining 30 days are covered by the unemployment insurance coverage.

The amount of maternity leave pay is paid based on the worker’s ordinary wage on the first day of the said leave, but it should not exceed 4.05 million won for the 90 days.

If the amount of ordinary wage for a worker exceeds 1.35 million won per month, the employer should pay the difference.

  • Regular wage : Refers to the fixed income promised to the employee based on a set amount of hours as outlined under the contract agreed upon by both employer and employee.

Applying for a maternity leave grant

Employees have up to 12 months after the end of their maternity leave to obtain a maternity leave confirmation document from their employer. The confirmation document and application form should be submitted to an employment support center. However, it is important to note that an application for a maternity leave grant after the specified 12-month period will invalidate the employee’s eligibility to receive the grant.

Child Rearing Leave

What is child rearing leave?

Employees with a child aged 3 years or younger can take at least 30 days leave for child rearing purposes.

Eligibility for maternity leave

  • An employee with a child aged less than 3 years and who has worked at the workplace for more than one year
  • An employee whose spouse has not applied for child rearing leave for the said child
  • Statutory maternity leave period: One year

Applying for child rearing leave

  • An insured employee can receive a grant to take at least 30 days leave of absence from work.
  • If an employee applies for child rearing leave after the deadline for application (30 days in advance), the employer may designate the first day of the said leave within 30 days of the application.
  • If an employee wants to extend the child rearing leave period, he/she should inform the employer thereof at least 30 days in advance of the period. Such an extension is allowed only once.

Child rearing leave period and amount

  • Eligibility : The relevant employee’s spouse (i.e. the insured) should not have used child rearing leave concerning the said child and the insurance period should be at least 180 days by the day before the commencement of the child rearing leave period
  • Wage for child rearing leave period : 500,000 won per month (If the period is less than one month, the period is calculated on a pro rata basis. Even if the employer has granted child rearing leave for 2 years, the wage for the child rearing leave period is paid only for one year.)

How to apply for a child rearing grant

  • Within the designated period (i.e. for 12 months from one month after the first day of the child rearing leave period), application should be made to the employment support center having jurisdiction over the place of abode or workplace, along with a letter of confirmation of child rearing leave (Only for the first time) and an evidential document concerning the employee’s ordinary wage (wage ledger or employment contract).
  • If the person concerned cannot apply for the child rearing grant due to an unavoidable reason (such as acts of God, illness or injury of the relevant employee or spouse or lineal relative), the application may be submitted within 30 days of the termination of the said reason.

Wage payment

  • The basic method of wage payment should be by check or cash and given to the employee directly, in its entirety, at least once a month.
  • According to the Labor Standards Act, Article 43, if an employer refuses to pay his/her employees, he/she can be prosecuted and criminally charged with a prison sentence of 3 years or less and a maximum fine of 20,000,000 won.
  • Foreign workers registered with the Immigration Office are protected by the same Labor Standards Acts as Korean citizens. Illegal aliens residing and working in Korea are provided the same basic protection, regardless of their standing with the Immigration Office.
  • Wage Claim Security System : A retired employee who is left without any retirement grants due to the employer’s bankruptcy or any other viable reasons is eligible for grants from the Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Service.
  • Wage Claim Security System process : Recognition from the Ministry of Labor and confirmation of delayed payment → Application for confirmation of bankruptcy etc. (the employee)→ Period of bankruptcy notification of 30 days (postponement allowed only once) → Application for confirmation and payment → Confirmation results notification (to employee) and forwarding of delayed payments (Korea Labor Welfare Corporation) → Delayed payment deposited into employee’s account → Government holds the right to claim payments from the employer.

Retirement grant

  • Retirement grants are mandatory at workplaces with five or more employees.
  • The basic requirements are also applicable to retirement grants.
  • A worker employed for one year or more is eligible for retirement grants. Foreign workers are also eligible for retirement grants unless certain circumstances prevail that nullify such claims. As mentioned before, foreign nationals working in Korea illegally are technically considered employees of a workplace and hence are also entitled to retirement grants.

Retirement grant calculation method (example)
  • Total period of labor : April 30, 2009 ~ October 31, 2013 (4 years, 6 months and 28 days = 1,668 days)
  • Calculation of average salary three months prior to retirement : 3,600,000 won(Total wage amount over three months) / 92 = 39,130 won
  • Avg. salary 39,130 won * 30 days * 1,668 days / 365 days = 5,364,621 won