As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the burden of caring for female workers is increasing. Difficulty in reconciling work and family due to childcare is acting as a factor that increases the likelihood of women leaving the labor market. It is argued that there is a need for measures to resolve the disadvantages of childcare. On the 1st, the Central Research Institute of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions published a report titled ‘Corona 19-caused care gap and women’s labor crisis response tasks’.
‘Caring for poisonous poisons’ despite COVID-19
The researcher surveyed 556 male and female union members of the Korea Federation of Trade Unions with children on the working environment and care situation due to COVID-19. 68.6% of the respondents answered, “Childcare is a problem because there is no one to look after the children during the day.” For men, working hours per week decreased by 2.2 hours and childcare hours increased by 1.8 hours after COVID-19. On the other hand, women worked 1.6 hours less, while caring hours increased by 6.7 hours. Research Fellow Jang Jin-hee analyzed, “Female workers were faced with a work-life imbalance as they devote their personal and leisure time to care work.”
85% of female workers perceived that COVID-19 caused a work-life imbalance. If COVID-19 continues, 21.6% of women predicted that it would be difficult to maintain their current job. As the reason for not being able to maintain a job, women cited “difficulty with work-family balance such as childcare” as the main reason. There was a big difference from men who cited “company management deteriorated” as the main cause. When asked about their experiences of considering changing jobs or leaving the company due to child care issues, 24.5% of women answered, “I have considered changing jobs.” 49.0% answered, “I have considered resigning.”
52% of female workers
Experiencing disadvantages at work due to family care
The government is recommending the use of the family care system to fill the care gap caused by COVID-19. A representative system is family care leave, which can be used for up to 20 days. However, the rate of use of family care leave was only 17.2%. 12.9% of men and 20.9% of women used it. The average duration of use was 3.7 days for men and 6.5 days for women. The reasons why the number of days of use did not meet the legally guaranteed number of days were “notice at work such as bosses and colleagues” (43.2%) “disadvantages at work due to family care” (22.8%) “economic burden due to reduced income” (19.3) %) was selected.
The problem is that using the family care system can directly lead to disadvantages in the workplace. The Act on Equal Employment of Men and Women and Support for Work-Family Balance (Gender Equality of Employment Act) prohibits disadvantages due to the use of the family care system. However, it appears that disadvantages are occurring in the field. 52% of female respondents said that they experienced disadvantages at work due to family care. 63.9% were concerned about the disadvantages of using the family care system.
Research Fellow Jang Jin-hee said, “Socialization of care is required so that care vacancies caused by infectious diseases such as COVID-19 do not repeat themselves. We need to be able to take care of it,” he said. Research Fellow Jang argued that it is necessary to expand national and public care institutions and raise the status of care workers, while also changing the perception that all members of society, not women, are the subjects of care. In addition, it was suggested that matters related to job reinstatement and performance evaluation after the use of the family care system should be defined as a consultation obligation under the Act on the Promotion of Worker Participation and Cooperation (the Worker Participation Act).