June 27, 2018 10:57
The government is softening its line on shortening the working week amid complaints that the change is coming too fast for Korea's struggling businesses.
The government agreed to exclude the information, communication and technology industry from a strict maximum of 52 hours a week in exceptional cases like hacking attacks and downed servers.
Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in a meeting with other financial officials on Tuesday, "It seems necessary in unavoidable cases to allow extended working hours, especially in the ICT industry to deal with emergencies."
Kim also pledged to study how the shortened working week should be implemented to look at possible areas of revision.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon recently told key officials to discuss specific details after agreeing to grant big businesses a six-month grace period.
Businesses are relieved that the government has listened to some of their concerns, especially the fears of venture companies that say they need to stay ahead of the global competition.
Now the petrochemical, shipbuilding and transportation industries are inquiring about possible extensions. Yoo Kyung-joon at the Korea University of Technology and Education said, "Follow-up measures should be drawn up as businesses discuss with their staff how working hours can be adjusted according to the needs of each industry."
The 52-hour working week will first be implemented in firms with over 300 staff, with the rest to follow later.
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