8:42 pm - 03/13/2018

South Korea cuts 'inhumanely long' 68-hour working week

President introduces 52-hour work week to help improve quality of life and boost birth rates

Employees in one of the most overworked countries in Asia are about to get a break after South Korea passed a bill to reduce the typical work week in an effort to improve quality of life and boost employment.

South Korea’s National Assembly overwhelmingly passed the law which cut the maximum weekly work hours to 52, down from 68. The law comes into force in July and will apply to large companies before being rolled out to smaller businesses.

The cut was a campaign promise by President Moon Jae-in, who also secured a 16% increase in the minimum wage this year.

The law faced opposition from businesses but was seen as necessary to improve living standards, create more jobs and boost productivity. It is also aimed at increasing the country’s birth rate, which hit record lows last year.

As South Korea’s economy boomed in the 80s and 90s, a workaholic culture took hold and the birth rate plummeted. Chung Hyun-back, the gender equality and family minister, has called the country’s working hours “inhumanely long” and said they were a factor in the South’s rapidly ageing society.

South Koreans workers have some of the longest weeks among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, behind only Mexico. The group of mostly developed economies does not include countries such as China and India, and developing countries tend to work more.

But South Koreans still work about 400 more hours a year compared with workers in the UK and Australia, about 10 additional standard work weeks, despite having relatively similar average incomes.

The new South Korean work week will consist of 40 normal hours and an additional 12 hours of overtime. It could cost businesses an additional 12tn won ($11bn) a year to maintain the same levels of production, according to a study by the Korean Economic Research Institute.

The new law reduced the number of exempted businesses from 26 to five, including transport and healthcare. People under 18 will also only be able to work 35 hours a week, down from 40, equivalent to a typical week in France.

source: the guardian
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pepsi_twist9 13th-Mar-2018 10:36 pm (UTC)
boost productivity this. What is the point of having slave hours when you get less results? I guess the idea is to burn out your employees and replace them but it's not productive in the long run anyway.
bethmai 13th-Mar-2018 11:01 pm (UTC)
right? I read this article a few years back where a large corporation trialled a 9am-3pm working day and apparently even with those 2 less hours productivity went up, because people used their time better. when people are tired and burned out, surely the results go down??

angela_derp_otp 13th-Mar-2018 10:53 pm (UTC)
There needs to be a complete overhaul of the corporate/working culture tbqh.

Also they also need to throw in there benefits for working mothers and single mothers, such as expanding free childcare facilities, also keeping a tighter watch on companies who dismiss their female workers 30 days after they return from their paid maternity leave. Not to mention to cost of education. Otherwise I don't see those childbirth rates going up, there are way too many factors.
petecarl 13th-Mar-2018 11:45 pm (UTC)
Yes! You're absolutely right that they (and my country as well) need to do more for working mothers. Companies do best when they have a diverse workforce, and when Korean women work so hard studying to get their degrees, a lot of them will feel like getting married and having kids will end their careers, so they pick their careers. Companies that recognize that their employees are human and can't always be working have better retention rates. Hiring and training new employees costs a lot of money and time that companies could save if they invested in caring for their current employees. Patagonia is an example of a company with amazing retention rates, and it's in part b/c they offer on-site childcare programs.

Maternity and paternity leave, sick leave, vacation, work from home and most importantly, making it policy and culture to not be docked for using those rights.
bethmai 13th-Mar-2018 11:02 pm (UTC)
and here I am complaining about having to stay 20 mins extra in the office today
belintuchiha 13th-Mar-2018 11:03 pm (UTC)
and here I am barely holding It with 40 hours a week D:
petecarl 13th-Mar-2018 11:28 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that their working conditions are improving, but GOd, I'm American, and I find our 40 hr weeks too much for me. I do better with 30 hr weeks.
modestgoddess79 14th-Mar-2018 01:24 pm (UTC)
I agree. A 40 hour work week still leaves me exhausted when I get home. I end up doing all my errands and chores during the weekend.
cakeeatingidol 13th-Mar-2018 11:35 pm (UTC)
I guess I shouldnt complain about my 30hr a week work schedule.
soft_taozi 13th-Mar-2018 11:36 pm (UTC)
I would love for this to lead to an actual change.

But I fear it will only lead to a reduction in your contract hours and not the actual hours people work. So people just end up getting paid less for the same hours of work.

A similar thing happened at Samsung last year. They said they were cutting down people's contract hours but people just ended up working the same hours for fewer hours pay :/
msgrottesca 14th-Mar-2018 07:14 am (UTC)
But I fear it will only lead to a reduction in your contract hours and not the actual hours people work.

Yep, I guarantee this is exactly what will happen. Basically a gesture more than anything. Things like this have deep cultural roots that have to be uplifted before anything can actually change.
miss_suunshinee 13th-Mar-2018 11:38 pm (UTC)
labour laws in korea seem so weak they only encourage workaholic culture and all kind of abuses in the workplace

i never knew about a country/culture where staying extra time in the office was some kind of competition like those offices with beds for employees to stay all night long working

but im glad to see they want to change, lets see if big companies and conglomerates are ready to change their minds too

Edited at 2018-03-13 11:41 pm (UTC)
sra_interesante 14th-Mar-2018 01:25 am (UTC)
those companies with dorms in the office to keep employees in some kind of non-stop labour day ....
yikes that must be a lot like hell on earth

Edited at 2018-03-14 01:27 am (UTC)
reader17 14th-Mar-2018 12:10 am (UTC)
Wow I didn't realize the amount of hours they had to work. I am glad that they are cutting it back. Hoping that they still make the same amount of money, and will be able to relax some, and hoping it will have them be less stressed.

Not that I know the culture that well but don't a lot of the workers go out and drink after work? I wonder if instead of them have more free time to be with the family if they will just be out drinking longer.
mattemate 14th-Mar-2018 12:14 am (UTC)
56 hours is still a lot, but baby steps are still steps!
amyho 14th-Mar-2018 12:49 am (UTC)

I work over 50 hours a week I just realized. I’m paid salary tho so ugh.

sub_divided 14th-Mar-2018 03:01 am (UTC)
Me too, I work between 10 and 12 hours a day during the week and 4-5 hours on Saturdays (though that's ending soon)...I also have a 1 hour commute to work each way. I often have a few hours of work to do at home on Sundays too, but I'm salaried so it's not overtime. If you added everything up, it would probably come close to 68 hours a week.

I can't imagine having a family with this schedule, it's a struggle just to run errands and clean a small apartment. If I can't do it on my way to or from work it doesn't get done, basically.

52 hours a week sounds really nice, I would love to have that schedule again.

Edited at 2018-03-14 03:04 am (UTC)
daynr 14th-Mar-2018 01:48 am (UTC)
I hope it gets reduced! I regularly did 52 for years and it gets old, especially if you have to commute or want to cook/exercise/read/breathe.

I can't image regularly hitting 68. I'd be pissed if I saw people slacking and thus had to stay later.
cakeeatingidol 14th-Mar-2018 02:03 am (UTC)
I'm asking this honestly, how did you split up the 52 hours?
fallendaydreams 14th-Mar-2018 01:50 am (UTC)
I'm working 54 hours rn, but it's by choice and I get overtime
chaehocheol 14th-Mar-2018 01:55 am (UTC)

Idek how a person functions at a job working 68 hours a week nonstop. Or even 56 hours. 40 hours a week makes me feel like I’m slowly dying on the inside, with a perpetual feeling of doom that my life is being wasted away in a cubicle. No wonder productivity and birth rates are so low. At a certain point you’re not longer living, you’re just surviving to get paid. A shell person, tbh.

I hope this first step works towards shaving the average down to something actually manageable for, you know, humans.

nana_the_dwarf 14th-Mar-2018 02:40 am (UTC)
It's a start at least.

I hate the overworked means reliable mentality. It can't be helped sometimes, but to make a habit of it is unnecessary and unhealthy. Manage your time properly and you'll find you'll be done in less time than what you first expected.

I remember my boss giving me a sarcastic "leaving already?" when the clock struck 7 and I was like bitch, I arrived at an appropiate time and still had to wait outside for an extra hour for your lazy ass to open the office door; I also live two hours away so fuck yeah I'm leaving.
ajin 14th-Mar-2018 05:27 am (UTC)
This so much. If I could leave work after 6,5 hours instead of 8,5, the only difference would be that I wouldn't be doing other people's work in the last two hours since I'm always done with mine by then.
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