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Five-Day Workweek Finally Begins

Posted June. 30, 2004 22:21,   


Starting July 1, the five-day workweek will begin under the new Labor Standard Act.

The Ministry of Labor stated on June 30 that the workweek at 1,000-plus-strong state corporations and affiliates and financial institutions will reduce to 40 hours from 44 hours effective on July 1.

The workweek will reduce to 40 hours at 300-plus-strong workplaces in July 2005, at 100-plus-strong workplaces in July 2006, at 50-or-more workplaces in July 2007, and at less-than-20 in July 2008.

Under the new law, the employers affected by the new workweek should pay overtime at a premium rate.

Monthly leaves are also repealed under the new law. Monthly physiologic leaves will become unpaid leaves. Yearly paid vacations will be 15-25 days while subsistence wages will be safeguarded.

As for state corporations and their affiliates, 145 out of 282 workplaces with a total of 222,236 employees, or 51.5 percent, have completed labor-management negotiations on the 40-hour workweek, according to the ministry.

Collective bargain contracts and work rules have been revised at 86 (20.2%) out of 426 private corporations, each of which hires more than 1,000 workers (a total of 1,389,421 workers). Out of them, 73.2 percent revised corporate rules on vacations in correspondence with the new law. About 7.0 percent of them reduced vacations packages while 19.8 percent left them unchanged.

The 40-hour workweek still affects these workplaces regardless of whether they change corporate rules or reach a collective bargain agreement. The employers should pay overtime if the workweek surpasses 40 hours.

However, the National Hospital Workers Union and labor unionists at Hyundai Motor Co. are currently on strike. Subway labor unionists are planning a strike for the next month, demanding a full-fledged introduction of the 40-hour workweek. Controversy will continue for months to come over the new workweek.

Jong-Hoon Lee taylor55@donga.com