Shorter Hours Big Changes: Korea on the verge of Five-day Workweek.
Korean workers recorded 2,497 working hours on average yearly, placing Korea at the top of OECD nations in hours worked. The high levels of working hours are attributed to a 44-hour workweek, frequent overtime, and limited use of holidays.
The introduction of the five-day workweek system has been one of the top priorities for unions for many years. However, there had been little progress in the consultation on the issue until the Korean Tripartite Commission (KTC) established 'Special Committee on the Reduction in Working Hours' in May 2000. The same year in October, a basic agreement, which outlined principles of gradual reduction of working hours, has been reached between representatives from unions, business and government within this committee. The committee is currently under negotiation to draft a specific plan for the introduction of the five-day workweek. .
The adoption of the five-day workweek has been delayed because of different anticipated effects between the workers' union and business community. The workers' union urges to adopt the new system, focusing on .
positive effects; on the other hand, the business community is worried about negative effects, arising from reducing working hours. .
In this paper, the positive as well as negative effects of introducing five-day workweek will be discussed. In addition, several principles will be suggested to minimize the anticipated problems.
Anticipated Positive Effects.
The five-day workweek supporters, including workers' unions and the government, urge to adopt the new system, emphasizing its positive effects. They expect that the introduction of the five-day workweek system will have substantial positive effects on our economy and quality of life. .
If the system is adopted, people's living standard will be improved. The reduction in working hours will reduce the work-related accident, which will reduce the production costs on the part of the management and the personal misfortunes on the part of workers.