MSD Korea recently revised a policy to allow employees on child care leave to be reviewed for job ladder promotion. However, a high-ranking official at the firm instantly opposed to the idea, saying “the government should take care of the child care leave and compensation as part of social welfare,” inviting criticism from other employees.
The executive’s comments came under fire because they were against the Korean society’s latest efforts to help employees find a balance between childcare and work.
MSD Korea notified the changed company policy on child careleave on April 19.
|An e-mail by an executive director at MSD Korea sent to all employees says MSD Korea should not count the period of child care leave as work period when reviewing for promotion and a job title change.|
Before the policy revision, the drugmaker used to exclude the period of childcare leave when reviewing the promotion of an employee. When the worker returned, the company sent the worker to an irrelevant position, giving him or her disadvantage. Such a culture made workers regard the company as stingy on childcare leave.
Belatedly, MSD Korea received external consultation and was advised to change the former policy of “excluding those who took childcare leave from reviewing for job ladder promotion and Korean title change.”
To ensure fairness and transparency, the company decided to include the period of childcare leave in the time needed for promotion and a change in Korean title.
Under the Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act, the Article 19 states, “No employer shall dismiss, or take any other disadvantageous measure against, a worker on account of childcare leave.”
Also, it states that “after a worker completes childcare leave, the employer shall reinstate the relevant worker in the same work as before the leave, or any other work paying the same level of wages.”
The period of childcare leave should be included in his or her continuous employment period, it says.
After MSD Korea notified the revised policy on childcare leave, the executive director sent an e-mail to all employees saying he opposed to the new policy.
“Childcare leave and compensation are the state’s job to consider as part of social welfare. It is not right for the company to include childcare leave as the period needed for promotion review on an equal basis with company work,” the executive director said in the e-mail, obtained by Korea Biomedical Review.
“Childcare leave is about six months to one and a half year. In this period, the worker’s capability should not be underestimated. However, it is not logical to take it as a period as if childcare contributed to company work. This is to build a healthy work environment,” he added.
MSD Korea workers said his e-mail made them speechless.
The exec had an anachronistic idea, and it was incomprehensible how the exec could send such an e-mail to all of the employees, they said. They criticized the firm for pretending to be a family-friendly company for woman employees while suppressing them in reality.
“I was outraged by the comments that regarded childbirth and childcare as a trivial thing. The executive also made sexist remarks forcing us to think that childcare does not contribute to the company,” an employee at MSD Korea said. “The remarks went directly against the values that company leaders should seek.”
Another worker said, “It was fair to correct what was nonconforming to the law. I don’t understand why the director said it was not logical.” The employee added that the company’s education to prevent gender discrimination was going nowhere.
“I don’t’ know if MSD Korea is a good place for women to work,” the worker said.
MSD Korea employees requested an official apology from the company and punishment on the executive director for his comments. However, the company has not taken any measure for over two weeks.
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