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Government announces action plan to expand youth employment in public sector through work-life balance, etc.

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Nov. 15, 2016

The public sector is set to expand youth employment by spreading work-life balance schemes, such as parental leave (i.e. childcare leave) for fathers and convertible part-time work.

At a cabinet meeting held on November 15th, the government announced an 'action plan to expand youth employment in the public sector through work-life balance, etc.'

Creating enough decent new jobs in a short period of time is not easy due to the continuing trend of low growth, etc., and there are many public institutions* failing to comply with the mandatory youth employment quota because of a limit on the number of staff or a lack of labor costs.

* 109 public institutions or 27.9% in 2014, 122 public institutions or 29.9% in 2015

Against this background and recognizing that it is necessary for the public sector to take the lead in job-sharing through work-life balance and thus to expand youth employment, the government came up with the plan. Its main features are outlined below.

The public sector will spread a culture of work-life balance and expand its job-creation capacity (job vacancies) by implementing parental leave for fathers, the convertible part-time job scheme, etc.

For a start, by 2018, all public institutions should grant parental leave to at least 5% of their male employees who have a child under the age of eight or in second grade or lower at elementary school and are therefore eligible for parental leave.

By 2018, they should also get at least 3% of their staff to use the 'convertible part-time job scheme', which allows full-time employees to work shorter hours during a certain period for such reasons as child care and to return to a full-time work schedule once the reason has ceased to exist.

< The findings of a survey on demand for convertible part-time work and parental leave for fathers (Apr.~Jun. 2016) >
 ◆(Parental leave for fathers) Of male respondents with a child in second grade or lower at elementary school, 10% want to take parental leave within three years. ⇒ The target figure was set, taking account of the fact that about 2% of male employees eligible for parental leave were on parental leave in 2015.
Convertible part-time work) Of all respondents, 4.1% want to use the convertible part-time job scheme within three years, even at the risk of losing 20% or more of their wages. ⇒ The target figure was set, taking account of the fact that about 0.2% of all employees were using the scheme in 2015.

The government will mainly focus on spreading the statutory working time reduction scheme for child-rearing parents, which allows workers to work reduced hours, instead of taking child-care leave, for up to two years to care for their children, and the subsidized convertible part-time job scheme, which allows workers at any stage of their lives to work reduced hours for up to one year for such reasons as child care, study and care for a sick family member.

It will also spread the 'working time reduction scheme for pregnant women', which allows pregnant workers to reduce their working hours without having their wages cut and is therefore easy to access, across all public institutions.

* If a worker who is less than 12 weeks or more than 36 weeks pregnant makes a request to reduce her working hours by two hours without any cut in wages, the employer should grant it unless there is any special reason to the contrary.

To this end, the government will ask the 450 public institutions* which have made no use of those schemes to use them by the first quarter of 2017 and will monitor and oversee their related performance.

* According to the results of the survey on demand for convertible part-time work (Apr.~Jun. 2016), about 450 public institutions said that they had never used one of the two working time reduction schemes.

In parallel, the government will make institutional improvements and raise awareness to spread work-life balance.

The government will make the convertible part-time job scheme easier to use, for example by abolishing the process of deliberation that should be undertaken by school councils with regard to teachers' switch to part-time employment and increasing the number of hours local public officials can work in a part-time position from 15~25 hours a week to 15~30 hours.

There are still many public institutions in which employees cannot use work-life balance schemes for fear of adding to the workload of their fellow employees.

To address this problem, public institutions and local public enterprises will be required to pay acting allowances to fellow employees who cover the duties of childcare leave takers or employees converted to a part-time schedule.

Moreover, the government will spread the campaign to improve organizational culture by implementing the ten suggestions for work innovation* that it and the five major business associations jointly came up with.

* ① leaving work on time ② refraining from making work-related calls after hours ③ improving concentration at work ④ smart meeting ⑤ giving clear work instructions ⑥ flexible work ⑦ smart reporting ⑧ creating a sound company dinner culture ⑨ promoting the use of annual leave ⑩ managers should lead by example

The 'survey on demand for convertible part-time work and parental leave for fathers', which is effective in raising awareness and finding potential demand, will be conducted on a regular basis, every two or three years.

The public sector will actively hire young people to fill job vacancies, using  labor cost savings, various subsidies, etc., resulting from the implementation of work-life balance schemes and the wage peak system.

In principle, regular employees will be hired to fill vacant positions created by work-life balance schemes. Each institution's occasional and voluntary hiring will be promoted to expand regular employment.

The government will establish a legal basis for allowing public institutions to use subsidies paid under the Employment Insurance Act and its subordinate statutes, such as 'subsidy for converting workers to a part-time schedule' and 'subsidy for hiring replacement workers', as labor costs.

Such labor costs will be excluded from the calculation of a public institution's rate of increase in total labor costs to prevent public institutions from being disadvantaged during their management evaluation because of any labor cost increase that might not otherwise occur.

Furthermore, public institutions will push ahead with their plans to hire new employees, using cost savings and win-win employment subsidies resulting from the implementation of the wage peak system. They hired 2,000 new employees in the first half of 2016 and plan to hire 6,000 new employees during the second half of 2016 and 2017.

If the most important elements for work-life balance - promoting the use of parental leave for fathers (approx. 9,000 jobs), spreading the convertible part-time job scheme (approx. 3,500 jobs), hiring regular employees to fill vacancies created by childcare leave takers (approx. 6,000 jobs) and increasing new hiring through the wage peak system - have been fulfilled, it is estimated that more than 25,000 jobs (including 3,000 fixed-term employees turned into regular employees) for youth will be created in the public sector over the next two years.

"Spreading work-life balance schemes can help to ease the problems of low fertility and youth unemployment, the two biggest challenges facing our society, and the public sector will take the lead in this," said Lee Ki-kweon, the Minister of Employment and Labor. "I kindly ask the private sector including the top 30 conglomerates to join us in expanding youth employment through work-life balance."

Last Modifide Date   :   Tue December 13, 2016
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