Saturday, March 15, 2014

Maternity Leave & Paternity Leave in the 15th Century

From King Sejong the Great, ISBN: 0-9779613-6-2
19 October, 12th year [1430 A.D.]
The King said to his Secretaries:
"In the past, when a government servant gave birth, she was expected to return to service seven days later.  This provision was made out of concern for the fact that harm might come to the baby if she returned leaving the child behind her, and so this period of leave was later increased to a hundred days.  However, there have been instances of women whose time was near, and who gave birth before reaching home.  I therefore suggest that one month of full leave be granted prior to giving birth.  Please amend the relevant laws."
26 April, 16th year [1434 A.D.]
Dispatched to the Ministry of Justice:
"It has been enacted that a female servant, who is due to give birth in a month's time or has given birth within the past hundred days, shall not be required for government service.  Since no leave has been granted to the husbands of such women, however, they have not been able to provide assistance to their wives in childbirth, and because of this some women have even lost their lives, which is most pitiful.  From this day forward, a husband is not required to return to service for thirty days after his wife has given birth." 

(In context and in general, a woman upon marriage became a member of her husband's family, and was expected to give birth at the home of her husband's family.  This might require days of travel.)
King Sejong, 4th Ruler of Choson Korea