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[Weekender] Government pushes for work-life balance with certification system

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Published : 2014-05-30 21:14
Updated : 2014-05-30 21:15

The South Korean government’s certification system for family-friendly companies is encouraging the spread of a more balanced work-life culture.

Over the past six years, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has issued “best family-friendly management” certifications to companies that provide a welfare system encouraging employees to put their family first.

The certification aims to accelerate the creation of a family-friendly environment to address social changes that have taken place over the last decade, such as the low birth rate, aging population and increase in economic participation by females.

“Family-friendly management is designed for employees to have a sense of social accomplishment and emotional stability at work and home,” said Gender Equality and Family Minister Cho Yoon-sun during a meeting with the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.

“For companies, the system will help to boost management performance as their employees will be able to immerse themselves in tasks which increase job satisfaction.”

Cho also pointed out that firms that adopted family-friendly management saw increases in sales and higher job application rates.

According to the ministry, the number of companies participating in the certification system has soared over the six years since it was introduced in 2008. It started with 15 companies and more than 522 businesses have now earned the certification.

Last year, a total of 279 companies became certified, including 84 conglomerates, 111 small and medium-sized companies, and 84 public organizations.

Criteria for the certification include implementation of legal requirements such as flexible working hours, maternity protection, employee satisfaction, and the willingness of the firm’s leaders to create a family-friendly work environment.

The certification is valid for three years and can be extended for another two years.

The certified companies receive various incentives from 25 government agencies and banks.

For instance, the Ministry of Employment and Labor gives extra points to the certified firms when they participate in part-time job creation projects led by the ministry.

The city of Busan exempts certified companies from routine local tax investigations for three years while KB Bank provides favorable interest rates to small- and medium-sized corporations with the certification.

Every year, the gender equality ministry and Korean Broadcasting System hold a joint annual award ceremony that recognizes the most outstanding organization among the certified corporations.

There are three award categories ― support for childbirth and child care, flexible working hours and family-friendly working environment. Some 15 firms, including Lotte Hotel, E-Land World, LG Uplus and Korea Rural Community Corporation received the awards at this year’s ceremony, held on Monday.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)

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