June 21, 2018 12:58
The government has caved in to pressure from big business to grant a six-month grace period for the implementation of the shorter working week, which goes into effect next month.
The decision came as business with more than 300 workers claimed the government guidelines are confusing and they need more time to put into practice the measure which reduces maximum working hours from 68 a week to 52.
"The Korea Employers Federation proposed the six-month grace period for the mandatory shortened work week and we believed it was worth considering," Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Wednesday.
The Labor Ministry had initially refused to allow more than a 20-day period saying that it would change nothing. Many businesses breathed a sigh of relief and said the government offered them at least a short-term stay of execution.
The Moon Jae-in administration had faced mounting criticism that it failed to consider the realistic problems businesses would face if the 2,000 hours Koreans work are reduced to around 1,800 hours in one fell swoop.
The 52-hour week was a campaign pledge of President Moon Jae-in and widely welcomed in principle in a country with one of the longest working weeks in the world.
Park Ji-soon at Korea University's School of Law said, "There were signs that the government hadn't spent enough time thinking about the problems businesses would encounter and what remedial measures should be taken."
Cho Seong-jae at the Korea Labor Institute said, "What constitutes working hours and what does not remains vague, and many changes need to be made. We will encounter more unexpected problems over the next six months and need to consider complementary regulations."
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