South Korea is proposing a 69-hour work week Lalrp



SEOUL — South Korea’s conservative authorities has proposed rising the authorized cap on weekly work hours from 52 to 69, triggering backlash from the opposition and wage-earners who concern the plan will wreck work-life steadiness in a rustic already well-known for workaholism.

The opposition Democratic Occasion, which launched the 52-hour workweek in 2018, mentioned the brand new plan risks increasing unemployment because it may permit employers to put off employees and ask those that keep to work longer hours.

South Koreans already toil greater than lots of their abroad counterparts. They work a mean of 1,915 hours per 12 months, in contrast with 1,791 hours for People and 1,490 hours for the French, who’ve a 35-hour workweek, in response to figures from the Group for Financial Co-operation and Improvement. The OECD common is 1,716 hours.

South Korea’s proposal comes because the four-day workweek features traction from Britain to California.

Bored with after-work emails and calls? In these international locations, they’re outlawed.

In a bid to sway public opinion, President Yoon Suk Yeol’s administration says some employees may finally have extra free time below the brand new guidelines, as the federal government would additionally introduce a cap on the variety of working hours per thirty days, quarter or 12 months. There would even be restrictions on working greater than three 60-plus-hour weeks in a row. This implies four-day workweeks are a chance, Labor Minister Lee Jung-sik mentioned this week at a information convention.

The plan would let workers select how lengthy and after they work, the ministry mentioned.

“The present work-hour system doesn’t convey the more and more numerous and complex wants of employers and workers by limiting the alternatives of employees and corporations alike,” Lee mentioned in an announcement this week. “This doesn’t match international requirements that stress the fitting to decide on and the fitting to well being.”

The ministry additionally pointed to new necessities mandating a minimal 11-hour relaxation interval between shifts. Nonetheless, critics say that the brand new rule doesn’t keep in mind commutes, and after-work emails and textual content messages.

The proposal has sparked a backlash from employees who concern it’ll give employers authorized grounds to encourage grueling hours on busy weeks.

“They are saying that the full hours we work yearly will keep the identical or come down,” mentioned one 34-year-old employee at a Samsung affiliate, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved by their employer to talk publicly. “However there’s all the time extra work to do. We’d now see extra overwork-related deaths if there’s a 69-hour workweek.”

Minbyun, a legal professionals’ group that has shut ties to the opposition, said in an announcement this week that the plan doesn’t handle issues ensuing from a protracted workweek, even when it caps hours on a quarterly or yearly foundation.

The federal government is overlooking that work-related accidents and deaths “have a tendency to extend when the workweek will not be restricted to below 52 hours,” the group mentioned, citing South Korean labor legal guidelines that think about medical points that happen after a number of 60-hour workweeks to be work-related.

The federal government is in search of to submit the plan to parliament for approval by July, according to the semiofficial Yonhap News Agency. However the Democratic Occasion holds a parliamentary majority, which means it could actually block the proposed amendments.

Lengthy work hours have been cited as a serious motive that South Korea’s fertility fee is the world’s lowest, at 0.78, whereas its suicide fee is one of the world’s highest at 24.1 per each 100,000 folks, in response to the OECD.

The World Well being Group has linked lengthy working hours to elevated threat of stroke and coronary heart illness. “Working 55 hours or extra per week is a critical well being hazard,” a WHO official said in 2021.

For some employees, the proposal rings hole.

“Working till 9 or 10 p.m. is regular for me,” mentioned an worker at an LG affiliate, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved by their employer to talk publicly. “The 52-hour factor didn’t forestall me from working longer hours. So once I see headlines mentioning the 69-hour workweek, I can’t relate. I’m working lengthy hours anyway.”