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20% of married women on career break: report

Two in 10 married women in South Korea are on a career break, for as long as over 10 years for 38 percent of them, a report showed Tuesday.

According to The Minjoo Party of Korea’s Rep. Park Kwang-on, a total of 2.05 million married women were on a career lull due to marriage, pregnancy or child care reasons, accounting for 21.8 percent of the 9.42 million married women aged 15-54. The data from April 2015 was provided by Statistics Korea.

While 79.9 percent of unmarried women aged 30-34 were employed, a far less 47.3 percent of the married women had jobs.

Among those who were married and not working, 38.8 percent of them had been on a career break for 10 years or more. The corresponding percentages for five-10 years and three-five years were 23.6 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively.

Statistics also showed that 62.4 percent of those on a career break were out of the workforce for at least five years, illustrating the difficulties women face in re-entering the job market, Park said.

It took an average of 9.7 years for women who had children to return to work.
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Park pointed out that the government measures to support job re-entries of married women have been insufficient, as they only target those seeking to be re-employed within five years of leaving work.

Park said he has therefore submitted a bill to lengthen the job re-entry period eligibility to 10 years for receiving various tax benefits.

The bill also includes a clause to offer married women an income tax cut of 50 percent for the five years following re-employment. This takes into account the average salary of a re-employed woman in her 30s at 12 million to 15 million won ($10,700-$13,400).

Park also proposed raising tax credits on personnel expenses from the current 10 percent to 20 percent for small and mid-sized companies when they employ women who had been on a career break due to pregnancy or child care.

“South Korean women’s economic participation rate stands at 55.6 percent, which is in the mid to low level among the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development members. Guaranteeing the employment of women is the optimum policy to solve the issues of the low birthrate and declining working population at the same time,” Park said.

(khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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