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Korea moves to shorten work hours

The government plans to set up a road map within the year, aimed at lessening the nation`s notoriously long work hours, officials said yesterday.
The Ministry of Labor said that it will conduct a research on related regulations and similar cases in other countries and issue a draft report in August.
"Korean workers have longer work hours compared with other advanced countries. The new plan is expected to secure the well-being of Korean workers as well as helping overcome high costs and low productivity," said a ministry official.
"In the long term, the plan would help create more jobs, preparing the nation for a low birth rate and rapid aging."
The ministry said that the report would include research on the effect of shortened work hours, policies in other countries and ways to encourage workers to use more holidays.
Korean workers have the longest work hours among OECD member states.
According to the latest OECD data in 2004, the average Korean laborer works 2,390 hours each year. The figure is over 400 hours longer than Poland, the next longest-working country, and 34 percent more hours than the average in the United States.
Until the legislation in 2004 that virtually abolished the six-day workweek in large corporations, Korea was the only country in the OECD that worked Saturdays.
The Korean government`s recent data showed that the nation`s working time slightly decreased to 2,316 hours in 2007.

By Lee Ji-yoon