Most Small Businesses Won't Hire More Staff Despite Shorter Hours

  • By Jo Jae-hee

    May 28, 2018 12:19

    The vast majority of small and mid-sized businesses have no plans to hire more workers despite shorter statutory working hours, a survey suggests.

    The finding puts a dampener on government hopes to create more jobs by shortening Korea's notoriously long and unproductive working hours. The government claimed shortening the average working week by 6.9 hours would create between 140,000 to 180,000 new jobs to make up for the loss in output.

    The Korea Federation of SMEs surveyed 500 small and mid-sized companies and found that shortening the work week from 68 to 52 hours would result in a shortage of 6.1 workers. But only 76 of the companies or 15.2 percent said they will hire more staff.

    Asked why they do not intend to hire new workers, 63.7 percent of the rest said it will not be necessary, while 23.6 percent cited increased labor costs, 5.9 percent said they can deal with the shortfall and five percent said they would not be able to find workers even if they wanted to.

    Lee Jae-won at the Korea Federation of SMEs said, "Most of them are either considering closing down or moving their manufacturing bases overseas, so they don't plan to hire more workers."

    The survey also revealed that the average monthly salary of workers at small and mid-sized companies will decline from W2.47 million to W2.2 million when working hours are reduced (US$1=W1,078).

    Less than 10 percent of the respondents said they intend to keep their workers' wages unchanged, and only 2.2 percent said they will compensate staff for the decline in wages and 7.2 percent said they will make up for some of the decrease.

    Asked what help owners want from the government, 57.2 percent cited assistance in paying wages, and 35.4 percent cited policies to help find new staff.

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