South Korea is pitching a 69-hour maximum workweek

The concept of a four-day workweek is gaining steam in economies just like the U.S. and the U.Ok, as research report shorter working hours result in decrease burnout and improved worker retention with out hurting productiveness.

However South Korea goes the wrong way. The Asian nation is proposing letting its workers work longer hours—and argues the change will encourage households to begin a household.

On Monday, the South Korea authorities formally unveiled its plans to reform the nation’s caps on most working hours, first proposed by the nation’s president, Yoon Suk-Yeol, in December.

Below a regulation handed in 2018, South Korean staff can work a most of 52 hours every week, combining a regular 40-hour work week with a further 12 hours of additional time. Employers that breach the restrict threat paying a high-quality and even jail time.

However the proposed scheme would permit employers and staff to determine to measure additional time on a month-to-month, quarterly, or perhaps a yearly foundation. The federal government may also broaden the utmost quantity of additional time an worker can take every week to 29 hours, that means a most workweek of 69 hours. 

South Korea’s authorities argues that the brand new scheme permits for higher flexibility, and expressed hopes that staff would possibly work fewer hours total.

On Thursday, South Korea’s labor ministry even tried pitching the brand new guidelines as a approach to help the nation’s flagging fertility price, which at 0.78 births per lady is the world’s lowest. Ministers steered that staff would possibly work longer hours one week in change for longer holidays elsewhere within the yr. 

“We are able to resolve severe social issues like quick ageing and low beginning charges by permitting ladies to decide on their working hours extra flexibly,” labor minister Lee Jung-sik stated, in accordance with the Monetary Instances.

Korean enterprise teams have welcomed the plan, whereas unions and ladies’s teams have criticized the proposed guidelines.

“Whereas males will work lengthy hours and be exempt from care duties and rights, ladies must do all of the care work,” the Korean Girls’s Associations United stated in an announcement to Reuters. 

Unions, too, are towards the change. “It is going to make it authorized to work from 9 a.m. to midnight for 5 days in a row,” the Korean Confederation of Commerce Unions stated in an announcement, blasting the federal government as having “no regard for staff’ well being and relaxation.”

South Korea’s new guidelines do embody provisions towards prolonged shifts, requiring not less than 11 hours of relaxation time between working days. 

But it surely’s not clear that Korean staff will have the ability to benefit from their proposed flexibility. Solely 40% of Korean workers used up all their annual go away in 2020, in accordance with a authorities survey cited by the Monetary Instances. The common Korean worker labored a complete of 1,915 hours in 2021, the fifth-highest whole and virtually 200 hours above the worldwide common, in accordance with knowledge from the Group for Financial Co-operation and Improvement.

And solely 14% of Korean staff belong to a labor union, possible limiting their means to barter for extra versatile hours. 

The four-day workweek

A number of nations have launched pilot packages to analyze the consequences of a four-day workweek. One such pilot program, masking 2,900 workers within the U.Ok., reported vital enhancements in worker well being and retention with no loss in productiveness. 

The six-month pilot, which supplied full pay to workers working simply 80% of their common hours, reported a 65% drop in sick days and a 57% lower within the chance an worker would give up. Virtually all firms that took half within the trial stated they’d proceed with a four-day workweek for now. 

Different governments are actually contemplating trials of a four-day workweek. U.S. lawmakers at each the state and federal degree are introducing payments to not less than check a 32-hour week. And on Thursday, Australian senators known as on the nation’s authorities to attempt a shorter working week for its personal workers. 

But specialists have warned that the advantages of a four-day workweek accrue primarily to salaried staff. Hourly staff as an alternative face the problem of not having sufficient hours, or following an unstable just-in-time schedule. 

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