South Korea officially cuts maximum workweek to 52 hours

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  • South Korea has finally cut the maximum workweek from 68 to 52 hours
  • Many employees burdened by excessive workload welcomed the latest change
  • Others, however, are wary they will end up working more overtime hours without getting paid

In a bid to promote work-life balance among its people, South Korea has officially cut the maximum workweek for employees from the previous 68 hours to only 52 effective Sunday, July 1.

Covered by the new law are companies and businesses with more than 300 employees, state-run agencies and government offices, according to The Straits Times.

The directive has been at the forefront of the President Moon Jae-in’s campaign promises and has finally taken effect last weekend. This would mean that affected employees will only have to work the regular 40 hours per week plus an additional 12 hours overtime.

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Some employees were delighted by the news, especially those who have been burdened by extended worktime either because of the excessive workload, or because the company is understaffed.

“I hope this will pressure employers to hire more people while guaranteeing more workers their rights to enjoy life outside work,” said 29-year-old Shin Na-eun who now owns a business after resigning from her regular job due to unreasonable workload which she had to bring home even on weekends.

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Others however were not as equally excited as Shin, saying they may end up working extra overtime anyway, say 16 hours, and not get paid.

“I think those who want to work more and thereby make more money should have the right to do so. What if you can’t make your ends meet unless you work overtime? I feel like for some people in this country, this law revision is rather irresponsible,” said an office worker.

The companies are being given six months ‘grace period’ to implement the new law or face stiff penalties.