The number of fathers who took time off to take care of their children jumped 65.9 percent on-year in the first half, aided by the government's increased support for parental leave, the labor ministry said Monday.
The number of men who took paternity leave reached 8,463 in the January-June period, up from 5,101 tallied over the same period of last year, according to the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
If the trend continues, the number of such people is likely to surpass the 16,000 mark this year to hit a record high, according to the ministry.
Under the law, people whose children are younger than eight, or below the second grade of elementary school, are entitled to apply for a maximum one year of maternity or paternity leave. The government also provides the allowance for subscribers to employment insurance who also sign up for parental leave.
The rise in such people is largely attributable to the government's policy aimed at encouraging fathers to join child-rearing and expanding financial support, the ministry said.
The government pays a maximum 1.5 million won (US$1,330) allowance for the first three months of parental leave. A woman on maternity leave is entitled to a maximum monthly payment of 1 million won for up to one year.
Last year, the South also raised the allowance for fathers taking leave for their second child.
The ministry said that men accounted for 16.9 percent of a total of 50,089 people who took family leave as of end-June, up from 11.4 percent a year earlier.
Fathers who are working at companies with more than 300 workers accounted for 58.4 percent, the largest portion of men taking the leave, it added.
But those who work at firms with 100-300 employees logged the fastest on-year growth of 94 percent in signing up for the leave, indicating that more fathers working at mid-sized companies are taking the parental leave.