Maids and Governesses Are Also Part of the Workforce
Maids and Governesses Are Also Part of the Workforce
  • 여성신문
  • 승인 2001.02.07 00:00
  • 수정 2013-07-12 16:27
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The Korean Women's Trade Union (KWTU) has demanded the government and legislators to eliminate the Labor Standard Act (LSA) clause denying legal protection to people employed to do housework. These household employees are definitely wage workers, but article 10 of the LSA stipulates that the Act does not apply to these people. They are not even eligible for the protection offered by minimum wages.

The Ministry of Labor argues that relevant labor regulations in neither the US nor the EU have any provisions for household employees. It also expresses doubt that applying the LSA to such workers would actually have much of an effect. The LSA defines workers as people who provide their labor to businesses in return for wages, Considering today's social norms, the Labor Ministry claims, regarding households as businesses will surely raise a controversy. 

However, the KWTU interprets the government's reluctance as basically a refusal to acknowledge housework as paid work. Another reflection of this attitude is the judicial precedents ruling that family drivers are household employees if they help family members with the shopping and wage workers if they drive family members to and from work. Likewise, full-time housewives are excluded from the population that engages in economic activities, but are considered employed if they help in the family-owned farm or factory for no pay. 

Housework accounts for 25.9% of GDP, and yet is not considered an economic activity. This explains the public's failure to regard a household as a business. President Chung Yanghee of the KWTU points out that there is no reason not to acknowledge the labor of household employees, since they also work in return for wages. 

The LSA Commentary explains that the Act is not applied to household employment because it is related to individual privacy and because it is usually not within the realistic scope of government regulations in terms of working hours and wages. But Chung argues that the first priority of government regulations should be dealing with workers who are in difficult situations. reported by Euna-Song


Campaign to use both parents' surnames

A campaign launched in opposition of the current hoju system that gives only the hoju 

or father's surname to the children. A symbolic cultural and social campaign aimed at 

challenging the patriarchal and "son-first" mentality of Korean society by encouraging 

people to use their mothers' surnames as well.

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