Furthering the Korean government’s policy response to an aging society and low birthrate, the 2014 amendment to the Labor Standards Act permitting pregnant employees at critical points in their pregnancy to request shorter working hours without a reduction in pay has now become effective for all employers from March 25, 2016.

Pregnant employees whose pregnancies are within the first 12 weeks, or whose pregnancies have extended past 36 weeks, may request the employer to shorten the employee’s workday by up to two (2) hours per day, provided that employees whose normal workday is fewer than eight (8) hours may not request a reduction to a total of fewer than six (6) hours per day.

Employers are expressly prohibited from reducing pay for employees exercising their right to request reduced working hours, in accordance with the new Art. 74, clause 7.

Under the Presidential Enforcement Decree to the Labor Standards Act, the employee shall notify the employer in writing of the fact of her pregnancy, and her request for reduced working hours not less than three (3) days before the reduced working hours are desired to take effect. The employee shall furnish a doctor’s note certifying pregnancy, and detail her desired start and end times for work. Documentation is not necessary when requesting  reduced working hours later in the same pregnancy.

The March 2014 amendment was effective for employers with 300 employees or more from Sept. 2014, and has become effective for all employers from March 25, 2016.