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77.8% of wage earners support 52-hour workweek: labor ministry

By Yonhap

Published : Dec. 28, 2021 - 14:11

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About 78 percent of salaried workers support the 52-hour workweek that was introduced in 2018 to reduce long working hours, a labor ministry survey showed Tuesday.

According to the survey of 1,300 people, 71 percent said the reduction of the maximum weekly working hours to 52 from 68 was a good decision. Of the wage earning respondents, in particular, 77.8 percent were in support of the shorter workweek.

The Nov. 26-30 survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.72 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.

The survey also showed that 88 percent of workers think the shorter workweek has been implemented well at their workplaces.

It also showed that 55.8 percent of all respondents think South Koreans work too much. The belief was particularly strong among those aged between 19 and 29 at 71.2 percent.

As reasons for the long work hours, a "heavy workload" was cited the most at 46.4 percent, followed by "a way to earn an adequate income" at 27.8 percent, an "inefficient work process" at 20.1 percent and "personal achievements and satisfaction" at 3.6 percent.

The survey also showed more people preferred to leave work on time and enjoy personal time at 70.3 percent than get paid more for working longer hours at 28.7 percent.

But nearly 60 percent of the respondents said their quality of life has not changed after the implementation of the 52-hour workweek system. Only 33.2 percent said their lives have gotten better.

The system was enforced under a revision to the Labor Standards Act in 2018 starting with firms with 300 or more employees. In January 2020, the system began to be applied to firms with 50 to 299 employees and earlier this year to smaller businesses.

South Korea has among the longest working hours among the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the shorter workweek system was adopted to try to relieve the burden on workers. (Yonhap)