The Korea Herald


Possible legislation of labor laws favoring workers concern firms

By Park Hyung-ki

Published : May 24, 2012 - 19:33

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Working restrictions on holidays picked as most concerning factor among HR executives

The most concerning factor among human resource executives in Korea is pending labor laws restricting employers to make their employees work on holidays.

In a survey of some 300 executives at Korean companies by The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over 53 percent voiced such concern over the issue which is expected to be discussed at the National Assembly next month.

The law may also include making companies further reduce the number of working hours a week given that Korean laborers still work a lot more hours compared with other OECD nations. Politicians have been suggesting such labor law revisions to boost welfare to garner support from the average working-class citizens ahead of the presidential election this year, analysts said.

Koreans worked the most at 2,193 hours in 2010, 400 hours more than the average of OECD countries. Advanced economies such as the U.S. had 1,778 hours, Japan 1,733 and the U.K. 1,647, according to OECD data. Its data further showed that Korean workers were least satisfied, ranking among the bottom at 24th in the OECD Better Life Index.

However, a KCCI official said that such revisions will only increase tension between labor and management, while affecting operations, production and employee wages.

Such issues need to be dealt with through dialogue among lawmakers, managers and laborers, the official added.

About 20 percent of HR executives, meanwhile, said laws protecting non-regular employees are worrisome. Nine percent were concerned of labor laws that will lead to mandatory minimum wage increase, while 7 percent picked laws enforcing the extension of retirement age and recruitment of young employees as worrisome.

Potential revisions will only lead to further troubled management-labor relations as expressed by 70 percent of those surveyed. Small- and medium-size enterprises were more worried about labor law revisions than conglomerates, according to the KCCI.

By Park Hyong-ki (