South Korea – Lawmakers fail to reach agreement on reducing working hours

Filed under: News |

By (Danny Romero)

South Korean lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on reducing the maximum weekly working hours, reports the Korea Herald.

Members of the National Assembly’s Environment and Labour Committee agreed on a proposed reduction to 52 from the current 68 hours would help improve the working conditions and generate more jobs. But they failed to narrow their differences on details such as weekend pay rates and a grace period to be granted to businesses. This means an agreement will fall on the next administration.

South Korea hopes the adoption of shorter working hours would increase jobs especially for young adults. The current Labour Standards Act currently allows workers to work for up to 40 hours during the week and 12 hours for overtime work. But as the labour ministry sees “the week” as excluding Saturday and Sunday, the 52-hour legal limit is stretched to up to 68 hours — 52 hours during weekdays and 16 hours during the weekend.

Some have expressed concern that shorter working hours would negatively impact SMEs. Employers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, have asked for a grace period, citing how reduced working hours will damage their business environment and lead to an increase in their labour costs.

Unions have opposed a grace period citing that it will allow businesses to further exploit employees. “Setting a grace period is a privilege for large conglomerates that have benefited from illegally making employees work long hours,” The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said in a statement.

Source:: South Korea – Lawmakers fail to reach agreement on reducing working hours


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