South Korea considers revision of flexible work plan to suit employees

Many employees have opposed the Ministry of Employment and Labour's proposal to increase the weekly maximum work hours to 69 hours.
By: | March 20, 2023

Asking employees to work 60 hours or more per week should be considered as “excessive”, said South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has ordered further adjustments to be made to the proposed reforms to working time limits.

Yoon was referring to the proposed plan by South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labour, which aims to allow for a maximum working week of up to 69 hours. Although the proposal would compel employers to reduce working hours at other times to reduce overall maximum working time, Yoon said that the plan was drafted without an “adequate legal cap” on how long an employee could work during peak seasons.

“Concerns have been raised about the government proposal that could turn a blind eye on the longer working hours of employees,” a presidential office spokesperson added.

The president has also called on the Ministry of Employment and Labour to pay more attention to the needs and wants of younger employees, who are among those most resistant to the intense working culture in South Korea.

READ: Employee groups reject South Korea’s 69-hour workweek proposal

Yoon’s remarks have been viewed as his administration backtracking on the flexible workweek policy proposal, following criticism from the public. In a country where long working hours have often prevented employees from starting a family and raising children, the intense working culture has also left younger employees increasingly displeased.

Labour Minister Lee Jung-sik has reportedly already met with labour union representatives for younger employees to collect their opinions and said he is “open to all possibilities” for changes to the 69-hour workweek proposal, reported The Korea Herald.