Laws & Regulations only applicable in South Korea.
From November 19, 2021, the regulations for protecting pregnant employees in the workplace will be expanded. The existing "pre and postnatal leave" and "reduction of working hours during pregnancy" systems will be expanded to include the "use of maternity leave during pregnancy" and the "allowance for work schedule changes for pregnant employees." Now, let's take a look at the existing and revised provisions of the pregnant employee protection law, one by one, which will be of interest to HR managers.
1. Use of Maternity Leave during Pregnancy
The maternity leave during pregnancy system refers to a system that allows female employees to use maternity leave during pregnancy to prevent miscarriages or stillbirths.
Previously, only pre and postnatal leave could be applied before the amendment to the Labor Standards Act. However, with the revision of the law related to gender equality in employment this year, pregnant female employees are now allowed to use maternity leave. Any pregnant employee, regardless of the absence of risks related to miscarriage or stillbirth, can avail themselves of maternity leave during pregnancy.
In principle, maternity leave can be divided into two periods. The revised law stipulates that maternity leave during pregnancy is not included in the number of times maternity leave can be divided. The duration can be used within one year, combining maternity leave during pregnancy with postnatal childcare leave.
- System for Using Maternity Leave during Pregnanc
- Available for any pregnant employee regardless of specific risks such as miscarriage or stillbirth
- No limit on the number of times it can be used and can be divided (not included in the existing limit of two divided periods for maternity leave)
- Can be used within one year, combining maternity leave during pregnancy and postnatal childcare leave
National Law Information Center, Ministry of Government Legislation
2. Allowance for Work Schedule Changes for Pregnant Employees
The system of allowing work schedule changes for pregnant employees, in addition to maternity leave during pregnancy.
This refers to a system where pregnant employees can change the starting and ending times of their work while maintaining the daily working hours (regular working hours). If the company does not allow the requested changes, a fine of up to 5 million won may be imposed.
However, if the requested work schedule changes by a pregnant employee would cause significant disruptions to normal business operations or pose risks to the safety or health of employees, the company may choose not to allow it.
- How to Apply for Work Schedule Changes for Pregnant Employees and Required Information
- Submit a work schedule change application form by three days prior to the scheduled start date of the changed work schedule (electronic documents are acceptable).
- Specify the pregnancy period, the start and end dates of the work schedule change, and the start and end times of work.
- Attach a medical diagnosis certificate.
3. Prohibition of Overtime Work for Pregnant Employees
Companies cannot require pregnant employees to work overtime. Moreover, if there is a request from a pregnant employee, the company must switch to lighter types of work. In case of violation, a penalty of imprisonment for up to 2 years or a fine of up to 20 million won may be imposed.
For postpartum employees within one year after childbirth, overtime work of up to 2 hours per day, 6 hours per week, and 150 hours per year can be allowed, provided that it does not exceed these limits.
Shopl, a collaboration tool for on-site operations, provides a feature to prevent overtime work for pregnant employees.
4. Reduction of Working Hours during Pregnancy
According to Article 74 of the Labor Standards Act, female employees who are within 12 weeks or after 36 weeks of pregnancy can request a reduction of working hours within 2 hours per day, and the company must approve it.
For an employee working 8 hours a day, a reduction of up to 6 hours can be allowed, and the wages of pregnant employees cannot be reduced due to the reduction. If the reduction is not permitted, a fine of up to 5 million won may be imposed.
- How to Apply for Reduction of Working Hours during Pregnancy
- Submit a reduction of working hours application form by three days prior to the scheduled start date of the reduced working hours.
- Specify the pregnancy period, the start and end dates of the reduced working hours, and the start and end times of work.
- Attach a medical certificate (pregnancy confirmation document).
We have now examined the provisions of the pregnant employee protection regulations. Shopl, a collaboration tool for on-site operations, offers features to manage the schedules of pregnant employees and prevent overtime work. If you are an interested HR manager, try using Shopl!