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[Newsmaker] Paid ‘vaccination leave’ spreading among big firms

COVID-19 vaccine (Yonhap)
COVID-19 vaccine (Yonhap)

Major conglomerates in South Korea are introducing paid leave of 1-3 days for workers who get COVID-19 vaccine shots, following the government’s recommendation.

CJ Group was the latest to announce it would introduce the system, allowing its employees to take two days off work -- the day of the vaccination and the day after.

Those who suffer from side effects of the vaccine can take one more day off paid, without a doctor’s note, the company said.

The vaccination leave is also given to employees for their second vaccination shot, CJ added.

“We gathered the opinions (on the matter) in an employee council meeting. We considered health and safety of employees as our utmost priority to make the decision,” a CJ Group official said.

Other companies, such as Samsung Electronics, LG Group, SK Hynix and Naver also introduced similar paid vaccination leaves of at least one day.

Following the demand of its labor union, Samsung Electronics implemented the vaccine leave last week, offering a time off for the day of vaccination. If one suffers from the side effects, they can take work off for up to two days without any documentary evidence, the company said.

In April, the country’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters issued a recommendation to companies to provide sick leaves or paid leaves for the workers getting vaccinated, as a number of cases showed the jabs accompany side effects such as fever, muscle pain and nausea.

Currently, South Korea’s vaccination program is focused on senior citizens and social service workers, and employees of private companies are expected to get vaccinated from the second half of this year.

But because the vaccination leave is only a recommendation without legal binding force, there are also concerns that those working at smaller companies will not be provided time off on top of their annual leave.

The government said it was reviewing ways to support smaller companies’ introduction of vaccination leave.

By Jo He-rim (