Korea’s labor ministry to enable flexibility in uniform 52-hour workweek system

2022.06.23 15:17:56 | 2022.06.23 15:25:22

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]

The new South Korean government will enable more flexibility in the uniform 52-hour workweek that came into practice under the last administration.

Lee Jeong-sik, Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s first employment and labor minister, on Thursday unveiled the ministry’s plan on reforming the country’s labor market system. He said the ministry will seek to revise regulatory measures on working hours to better reflect conditions of different business nature within the legal boundary of 52-hour weekly limit.

Korea is the only country among the advanced economies to manage overtime working hours on weekly basis, according to Lee. Others allow businesses to choose their own way of managing working hours depending on their needs with agreement from their workers, he said.

Korea introduced the 52-hour weekly working hour limit in 2018. Still, Koreans worked 1,928 overtime hours on average last year, which far exceeded the average 1,500 hours of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members.

Efforts to cut the actual working hours should continue to protect workers’ health and improve their quality of life, said Lee.

The country has sharply cut the upper limit of working hours to 52 hours per week from previous 68 hours without modifying the basic working hour system to cause confusion at worksites, he said.

Lee proposed introducing time-banking system, which allows workers save and combine their working time, and use the saved time as paid break when workload is low.

By Pulse

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