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Korea plans to extend parental leave to 18 months

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South Korean Labour Minister on Monday said that the government planned to expand the period of leave for working parents from the current one year to one year and six months.

The Ministry of Employment and Labour also said it planned to increase the quota of foreign workers with non-professional employment visas for this year to alleviate pandemic-induced labour shortages.

The plans were included in Labour Minister Lee Jeong-sik’s report to President Yoon Suk Yeol on his ministry’s work plan for this year.

First, the government is pushing to guarantee up to 18 months of parental leave for each parent when both are working.

Officials said the plan was the government’s effort to encourage more couples to seek maternity or paternity leave to cope with the country’s extremely low birth rate.

Also, the labour ministry has decided to issue the E-9 visa to an annual record high of 110,000 foreign workers this year.

The decision was made as the industries relying heavily on the immigrant workforce have experienced labour shortages amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened border controls.

The government also plans to revise a relevant law so that foreign workers can stay more than 10 years without going through the process of departure and re-entry to guarantee their skills.

The labor ministry will also push forward a policy to reduce deaths or injuries caused at workplaces by enforcing companies to adopt a risk assessment system.

Starting this year, the government plans to enforce companies with 300 or more employees to adopt the system and further expand it to smaller firms with five or more employees by 2025.

The government will conduct an investigation on whether such a system was properly executed in case of workplace deaths or injuries, the officials said.

Also, the labour ministry plans to launch a committee by the end of this month to discuss measures to reorganize the wage system centered on performance.

The committee will be comprised of personnel managers, workers, experts in labour law or labour-management relations, and government officials.

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