Women Workers Policy Tasks for 2012 Presidential Election
Aims of 5 Policies:
① Decrease the gender wage gap to the average level in OECD countries.
② Decrease the number of women irregular workers to half.
③ Increase women's employment rate to the average level in OECD countries.
④ Create our society for ensuring to balance jobs and family matters through the protection of maternity and parental rights.
⑤ Reinforce women worker related administration to remove the legal blind spots.
15 Policy Tasks:
1. Decrease the gender wage gap to the average level in OECD countries.
▶ Current situations:
- In 2009, the gender wage gap in Korea was 38.9%, which was the worst amongst OECD countries. Low wage workers amongst women wageworkers in Korea accounted for 42.7% which is the two times higher than the average in OECD countries. In Korea higher than level 4 women public officials comprised only 7.4% and women directors working at 10 biggest Korean companies simply 1.3%. However, many European countries such as Norway and France have already implemented affirmative action for comprising 40% women directors.
① Increase the minimal wage to 50% of the average of monthly wages and expand the assistance in 4 social insurance fees.
- Legal reforms should be carried out to increase the minimal wages to 50% of the average of monthly wages and to provide assistances in social insurance fees for covering the all workers whose wages are 130% of the minimal wages regardless of company sizes. In particular, social insurance fee assistances are very important for the welfare of women irregular workers who often experience discrimination. However, it should be changed and improved since the scope of the assistance is too narrow. The increase to 50% of the average of monthly wage and the expansion of social insurance fee assistances will contribute to the improvement of poor working conditions, too.
② Ensure that public social service jobs should be paid 80% of the average of wages (about 1.6 million Won)
- Low paying social services jobs hired by the government should receive 80% (about 1.6 million Won) of average wages (2.1 million Won, as to August 2012 according to the Statistics Korea). For example, the first paycheck was 1.55 million Won for the Seoul Metropolitan local government's workers who were changed from the position of irregular workers. Currently, there are an increasing number of part-time jobs available to the women who are in their 50s and 60s. They usually work for their livelihood. This is because decent jobs are not easily available to them. When public and social service jobs can be upgraded to decent jobs, this will generate women's higher participation in economic activities, and then this will lead our country to a welfare nation with high quality of social services.
③ Allocate 30% for women directors in the public sector:
③-1. Implement affirmative action for women to comprise 30% directors in the public sector and 20% in the private sector.
③-2. Mandatorily publicize the situations of women directors in the public and private sector and research how to improve them.
- In 2010, in Korea, high-ranking women public officials accounted for only 2.4% and women managers with over level 4 comprised only 7.4%. In 2007 Korean introduced the affirmative action for increasing women directors in the public sector to more than 30%, but it hasn't gained fruits. In addition, in the private sector women directors accounted for only 6.8% in 2010, and further, the companies which don't have any women directors comprised 68.9%. However, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands introduced the affirmative action which has contributed to the increases in the number of women directors. Increasing women directors in the public and private sectors is to improve human diversities and to give more equal gender opportunities. To promote equal corporate cultures has a positive impact on recruiting excellent human resources and enhancing corporate images.
2. Decline the number of women irregular workers to half.
▶ Current situations:
Irregular women workers accounted for 61.8% (as on 2011), which is 1.5 times higher than male workers. Since 2008, while male irregular workers has been decreasing, the number of women workers has been rising. This shows women irregular workers are put in the blind spot of the Temporary Employee Protection Act. Moreover, there have been a higher number of part-time jobs, which is the worst case amongst irregular jobs. Up to 1.32 million women workers are involved in part time work, which shows the deteriorating situation of irregular women workers.
④ Regularize 100% of irregular workers and ban outsourcing jobs: Regularize 100% of irregular workers in the public sector like schools and ban outsourcing jobs.
- The ratio(27.2%) of women irregular workers in the public sector is two times as high as males (13.4%), and that (19.3%) of women irregular workers working at central administrative institutions is 3~4 times higher than males (5.3%). In particular, women irregular workers account for 95% out of 150,000 irregular workers working at schools. Women irregular workers working at schools should start to be regularized. In addition, women's jobs get highly outsourced, because there are so many tedious work in the public sector that the government wants to avoid from regularizing irregular workers. From the public sector outsourcing jobs should be banned.
⑤ Ban using irregular workers: Ban using irregular workers and acknowledge that outsourced workers belong to mother companies.
- When the reasons for using irregular workers are controlled, the number of women irregular workers will be shrunk. In addition, in case of dispatching and outsourcing companies, accknowledging that outsourced and dispatched workers belong to mother companies will lead to the improvement of working conditions and employment safety.
⑥ Cover specially employed workers and household workers with the Labor Standard Act: Reform 'the Labor Standard Act' to acknowledge that specially employed workers and informal household workers are also workers.
- Up to the number of 416,000 specially employed women workers and 300,000 household workers are not accepted as workers. Even though they are hurt or lose their jobs, they are not able to be covered with industrial accident insurance or unemployment insurance. If the reform of the Labor Standard Act realizes that specially employed workers and household workers are also workers, they can be protected by laws and the number of irregular workers will be reduced.
⑦ Install Employment Welfare Fund for women irregular workers.
- There are increasing part-time workers mainly amongst youth in their 10s and 20s and old women in their 50s and 60s. 83.2% of them do not have employment insurance. In particular, women juveniles usually work in very small size companies, and so many of them are exposed to sexual harassment. Additionally, they can be allured into entertainment spots due to their livelihood. In order to help them enter to the labor market safely without their giving up their dreams, the government should install the Employement Welfare Fund to assist them and contribute to the improvement of discriminatory working conditions of irregular workers.
3. Increase women's employment rate to the average level in OECD countries.
▶ Current Situations:
In 2009 women's employment rate amongst those at age of 25~29 is 65.6%, far higher compared to other age groups and higher than the average (63.8%) in OECD countries. However, women's employment rate between the age of 30~ 34 is just 50.1%, which is much lower compared to the average (63.4%) in OECD countries. As of 2009, if Korean women's employment rate of the age group of 30~39 were the same as male employment rate, it would be expected to increase the total employment rates for women by 8.4% and decrease the gender employment gap.
⑧ Install parental leave treatment one-stop windows: Ensure maternity leave and parental leave for irregular women workers and women working in very small-size companies.
- Irregular women workers and women working at very small-size companies don't receive 90 day maternity leave. That's because it is compulsory to get company owners' consents, even though maternity leave is legally ensured. However, it is very difficult for women workers, the social weak, to get maternity leave from company owners, without help from any trade unions which are generally not established at very small-size companies. Therefore, we believe one-stop window for treating maternity leave and parental leave should be installed to apply for maternity leave and parental leave easily, rather than talking to company owners directly. In the window, maternity protection counselors should be available to give suitable consultation to company owners and workers and to protect maternity leave and parental leave for women. This system will enable women to prevent their career breaks and stabilize the employment of women in their 30s.
⑨ Create social service jobs two times higher.
- Working women in low income family or of two paycheck couples have difficulties in balancing their jobs and family affairs, but social and public services for supporting them are not sufficient enough or largely lacking. It is necessary to have strategies for jumping into a welfare nation through providing public care services such as care for women in childbed, household work and child care, in order to reduce the burden of parents and prevent women's career breaks. The French government issues employment cheques and creates jobs in order to facilitate individual services and balance jobs and family matters. In particular, issuing childcare and household vouchers to single parents and two paycheck couples contributes to job creation in the public service sector and raising healthy children.
⑩ Newly install the right of urgent protection for sexual harassment victims in the workplace: Newly install the right of urgent protection for sexual harassment victims in the workplace and counseling & healing programs and punish attackers.
- According to a national survey (targeting 2,351 persons working at service companies whose employees are less than 30 persons), one out of 7 workers experience sexual harassment, and many of them are disadvantaged like stopping working (KWWA, 2012). However, the present law doesn't stipulate any detailed protection measures for sexual harassment victims or any punishment for attackers, either. Further, workers working at the very small companies employing less than 10 people are put in the blind spot of sexual harassment preventative education because sexual harassment education is compulsory for only the companies employing more than 10 workers, although sexual harassment often occur in the very small companies. It should be mandatory to provide urgent protection rights and counseling & healing programs for sexual harassment victims and punish attackers. The government should provide and assist sexual harassment preventative education up to the small size companies employing less than 10 workers. The expansion of sexual harassment preventative education and the protection of victims also contribute to the stabilization of women's employment.
4. Create a happy society for balancing jobs and family matters through the ensuring of maternity and paternity leave.
Korea has the annual average of 2,256 work hours, which is the world's longest. Since 1995 when Korea joined the OECD, Korea has been recorded as the nation with the longest working hours. The long hours culture is a factor to discourage people from balancing their jobs and family affairs, and to make Korean women become super women who have to take care of their jobs and family matters. all. That's why Korean working women's life satisfaction is lower than housewives.
⑪ Provide one-month compulsory paternity leave for male workers: provide one-month compulsory paternity for male workers and support alternative manpower to those taking maternity and parental leave.
- One month paternity leave should be compulsory to men until their infants become one year old. Men's childcare experiences will encourage them to realize the importance of childcare activities and to balance men's jobs and family affairs, which will help our society to have more equal family cultures and corporate cultures. Additionally, the assistance to company owners ensuring parental leave should be realized to give monthly 200,000 Won, so that the society reduces the burden of parental leave from company owners. The realization of the assistance in alternative manpower will play an important role in stimulating women's economic activities through the activation of maternity leave and parental leave.
⑫ Install public postnatal care centers and run community childcare centers.
- Install public postnatal care centers, assist childbed fees and create related social service jobs. We believe setting up community childcare centers in unused spaces of community centers and sending community childcare instructors will activate communities and after-school child caring activities, and create public jobs.
⑬ Provide compulsory women workers related human right educations: provide compulsory women workers related human right education for youth.
- In Korea, youth has part-time at their younger ages, but their human rights are largely ignored because they don't know their minimum labor rights. They should know how and where to get help if they have problems. In addition, their community and cooperation-based education should be reinforced. As a regular school curriculum, education regarding women workers' labor rights should be mandatory in order to booster the social change to a happy society to balance jobs and family matters as well as the protection of youth's labor human right.
5. Reinforce administration for women workers to remove legal blind spots.
▶ Current situations:
Current policies related to working women are implemented separately by the Ministry of Women and Family and the Ministry of Employment and Labor. Under the Ministry of Women and Family, the Dept. of Women's Labor Force Development and the Dept. of Women's Career Break Assistance are in charge of re-employment policies for the women who cannot enter to the labor market. Under the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the Dept. of Women's Employment Policies is responsible for labor control for women workers. However, the Dept. of Women's Employment is removed and integrated to the Dept. of Labor Standard which has to cover many labor related matters. So it cannot specialize in the improvement of discrimination against employment, maternity protection and sexual harassment. The two different ministries' treatment of women workers' related policies, causes many problems such as the production of inconsistent and unspecialized policies.
⑭ Install the Bureau of Women's Equal Employment in the Ministry of Employment and Labor: Install the Bureau of Women's Equal Employment in the Ministry of Employment and Labor and the Bureau of Balancing Jobs and Family Matters in the Ministry of Women and Family.
- Small size service industries where women workers are usually concentrated, are outside of labor inspection. For example, 65% of women workers are involved in small size wholesale or retailers, lodging and restaurants, and childcare, health and education services. In this light, the Dept. of Women's Employment Policies, in the Ministry of Employment and Labor should be upgraded to the Bureau of Women's Equal Employment and further, the Dept. of Women's Employment should be revived so as to enhance its specialty in women's labor inspection.
- Since the Ministry of Women and Family focuses on women's re-employment projects after career breaks, there is large lack of the projects for promoting balancing jobs and family matters and for preventing career breaks. Women are socially viewed as responsible for households and childcare activities, so a diversity of awareness-raising projects are needed for men to get actively involved in childcare and households. Therefore, we believe the Bureau of Balancing Jobs and Family Matters should be set up, so that feasible social atmosphere creation projects for balancing jobs and family matters for men and women, both, should be carried out.
⑮ Organize Women Workers' Human Right Center: Set up and run Women Workers' Human Right Center by city, province and Gu.
- Women workers as well as company owners don't know laws related to women's labor well. Women workers usually endure poor human right conditions, or stop working due to the violations of their human rights. So, if Women Workers' Human Right Center is run by city, province and gu, poor human right conditions of women workers would be improved and this would encourage the higher number of people to observe the law well.