The number of working fathers who took paternity leave surged more than 50 percent in the first quarter.

Data by the Ministry of Employment and Labor on Wednesday showed two-thousand-129 male employees in the private sector took paternity leave in the first three months of the year, up more than 54 percent year-on-year.

Such employees accounted for ten-point-two percent of some 21-thousand workers who took parental leave. That’s up three-point-seven percentage points from 2016.

Workers in companies with more than 300 employees accounted for nearly 60 percent of all male workers who took paternity leave.

A ministry official said for men, child-rearing has shifted from an option to an obligation, adding paternity leave will help workers maintain work-life balance and improve productivity for companies in the long term.