Published : 2013-09-11 15:40
Updated : 2013-09-11 18:43
Consensus is building among government officials and lawmakers in support of a proposal to slash the maximum working hours from 68 to 52 a week starting in 2016, a move that is expected to improve quality of life and create more part-time jobs, the Labor Ministry said Wednesday.
Saenuri Party Rep. Kim Sung-tae has proposed an amendment to the Labor Standards Act which would adopt a revised definition of a week, and in effect reduce maximum work hours by 16 hours.
“Chances are high that the law will get approved by lawmakers,” a ministry official told The Korea Herald.
“We’re expecting this could give room for expanding the selective, or flexible, part-time jobs and reducing working hours to meet the top OECD countries’ standards on working conditions.”
The proposed bill would maintain the basic 40-hour work week and eight-hour work day while cutting overtime work hours from 28 to 12.
It articulates a week as “seven days” including weekends and counts weekend shifts as overtime. Currently, weekend work is categorized as “holiday work” and not regarded as overtime.
The labor law allows 12 extra working hours on weekdays and 16 hours on weekends.
Government officials said up to 20 extra working hours could also be allowed, if management and labor groups have written consent.
The practice will be carried out in steps based on the size of organizations or firms, should the bill be approved at the next regular session of the National Assembly.
Companies with more than 300 employees and public organizations will be required to adopt the new standard from 2016, while firms with 30 to 300 employees implement the law from 2017. Those with fewer than 30 will be required to join the move from 2018.
The government has announced a number of policy plans to expand the availability of flexible part-time jobs, a major task envisioned by the Park Geun-hye administration for achieving its 70 percent employment goal by 2017.
Specific numbers have been set to reach this goal: The ministry is expecting to create 9,000 flexible part-time jobs in the public sector by 2017 and up to 269 firms are to hire 2,118 people by May 2014 with government support.
Employment and Labor Minster Phang Ha-nam said in a meeting with the press that the system’s primary target is women who are seeking to reenter the workforce, and other groups who need a work-home balance.
Officials said more specific plans to propel the flexible hiring system will be announced at the end of the year.