South Korea’s 52-hour workweek under scrutiny

A presidential advisory group has called for flexibility in implementing the 52-hour workweek which was first adopted in 2019.
By: | October 19, 2022

The Future Labour Market Society, headed by Sookmyung Women’s University business management professor Kwon Soon-won, released its findings outlining a general framework for the administration’s labour policies. 

To prevent side effects caused by rigid and unilateral labour policies and to increase workers’ choices, the report suggested increasing workers’ autonomy. According to the group, some workers would prefer the number of working hours be averaged over the month rather than a strict weekly cap.

Current regulations do not allow employees to choose their preferred hours of work.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has expressed concern about small companies being overburdened during peak seasons. A lack of manpower has forced some smaller firms to turn down business during particularly busy weeks.

READ: Most South Korean workers cannot adopt flexible work arrangements

Kwon said that the advisory group is currently working on final guidelines which aim to increase flexibility within the 52-hour cap. The group also raised the issue of modifying the wage structure, which is currently based on the number of years of employment. The advisory group also proposed a wage system based on work performance evaluations in response to criticisms filed by companies as “inefficient” as payments are made regardless of performance.

Additionally, regulations are urged to be revised to reflect technological advances in the business environment. The group said there is a limit to one-size-fits-all regulations for labour given the increasing diversity of jobs and the way people work, reported Korea JoongAng Daily.