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Excluding Maternal Grandparents from Bereavement Policy Is an Act of Discrimination
- NHRCK recommends that an employer provide bereavement leave and benefits for the deaths of grandparents on both sides -
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) made a recommendation on January 18 2023 that the Representative Director of Company A (a respondent) revise an employee benefits policy to allow employees to apply for bereavement leave and benefits for the death of maternal as well as paternal grandparents.
The petitioner filed a complaint with the NHRCK claiming that restricting three days of bereavement leave and 250,000 won of bereavement benefits to the death of paternal grandparents is an act of discrimination based of the family relationship.
The respondent explained that the decision has been according to the bereavement policy approved by the company’s personnel committee and the burden of growing costs would make its difficult for the company to revise its policy to include maternal grandparents.
The respondent added that although policy revision is not planned at this point, they will review the Labor Standards Act and related legal provisions to identify areas of improvement.
The Committee on Discrimination Remedy concluded that excluding maternal grandparents from the bereavement policy constitutes an act of discrimination based on family relationship and gender.
A person‘s lineal blood relatives are defined as their lineal ascendants and lineal descendants under Article 768 of the Civil Act. Article 777 of the same Act provides the scope of blood relatives, which includes relatives within the eighth degree of relationship from both mother's and father's side. As prescribed in the related provisions, the definition of grandparents includes both maternal and paternal grandparents and grandparents on the mother‘s side are given the same status as those on the father‘s side. Moreover, Article 974 of the Civil Act sets out the obligation to provide support for lineal blood relatives and their spouses.
The NHRCK’s Committee on Discrimination Remedy, therefore, found that the act of treating maternal grandparents differently from paternal grandparents is a practice rooted in the patrilineal ideology which is followed without reasonable grounds.
The Committee further noted that such practice is discrimination based on gender stereotypes that memorial ceremonies are mainly held for patrilineal ancestors, which are still present despite the abolishment of a patriarchal family system and a significant shift in perceptions of family functions and roles of family members, and is thus a violation of the right to equality protected by Article 11 of the Constitution.
Based on the decisions of the Committee on Discrimination Remedy, the NHRCK recommended that the respondent revise the bereavement policy to grant bereavement leave and benefits for the death of maternal grandparents.