September 14, 2015 10:58
More than 26,000 workers were laid off over the past five years while on maternity or childcare leave.
Saenuri Party lawmaker Min Hyun-joo said Friday that data from the Labor Ministry showed 26,755 men and women were laid off from 2010 to June this year while on maternity or childcare leave.
The law forbids employers from firing workers during maternity or childcare leave and within a month after returning to work unless there are exceptional reasons, such as the company closing down.
Also, employers are prohibited from laying off employees citing maternity or childcare leave.
But numbers have hovered between 4,000 and 6,000 over the last five years and 1,226 in the first six months of this year.
The reasons employers gave were necessity considering business conditions (9,706 cases), inability to pay wages/closure/relocation of business (1,744 cases) and "other circumstances" (a whopping 15,305 cases).
Critics say the reason why employers are disregarding the law is because they can get away with it. Violating the law carries a maximum five-year prison term or fine of up to W30 million, but victims are often reluctant to report the abuse for fear that they will have a tougher time finding work again (US$1=W1,188).
The lawmaker said, "That more than 26,000 workers were laid off before they were able to spend the entirety of their maternity leave runs completely counter to the government's policy of preventing working mothers from having their careers cut short due to childbirth or childcare. The government must ensure through continued monitoring and supervision that these policies are being implemented properly."
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