An Improvement in the Work Environment or an Escape from Reality?
An Improvement in the Work Environment or an Escape from Reality?
  • Reporter Lee Seung-ah
  • 승인 2021.01.02 18:47
  • 댓글 0
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▲Timetable for introducing 52-hour workweek system / Statistics Korea
▲Timetable for introducing 52-hour workweek system / Statistics Korea

 

Starting from 2020, workplaces with 50 to less than 300 employees were subject to the 52-hour workweek system. However, as the government permitted a grace period of one year, the system is to be implemented without delay starting this month. The 52-hour workweek system is mandatory for all businesses with 50 to less than 300 employees from January and less than 50 employees from July. The 52-hour workweek system limits the working hours per week to 52 hours and has been devised to improve working environments.
The result of a survey of 1,300 sites in Nov. 2019 showed that 57.7% of companies complied with the 52-hour workweek system. Also, in a full survey in Sept. 2020 (response rate of 60.8%), 81.1% of companies responded that they were complying with the 52-hour workweek system. Correspondingly, Lee Jae-gap, Minister of Employment and Labor, announced that, “the preparation for the 52-hour workweek system has improved significantly compared to before” and that “the grace period will be dismissed as announced before.”
The business industry immediately protested against the results. The Korean Federation of Small and Medium Business claimed that, “with the COVID-19 pandemic, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) did not have enough time to focus on the implementation of the 52-hour workweek system”, and added that the survey alternatively shows that “39% of the SMEs and 83.9% of companies working more than 52 hours per week were found to be unprepared for the 52-hour workweek system.” Accordingly, the government announced to reorganize a flexible working system, which allows working hours to be extended in busy times but reduced in slack times.
However, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) expressed disappointment in response to the flexible working system. Although the FKTU agreed that, “it is rational for the government to implement the 52-hour workweek system as scheduled”, they criticized the government’s plan to apply the flexible working system. Choi Myung-seon, secretary of Workers’ Safety and Health of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, exclaimed, “the flextime policy is a system that allows irregular and compressive, high-intensity labor that leads to cerebral and cardiovascular diseases.”
It seems that the government should make an effort to mediate within the given circumstances.
 


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