Experts commissioned by the government are reviewing to revise the current 52-hour workweek by changing the way of calculating overtime hours on a weekly basis to averaging the overtime hours on a yearly basis. The South Korean government plans to amend the working hour system when the expert group submits its final proposal on Dec. 13.
The government-commissioned expert group for labor reform held a meeting on Thursday and revealed the proposal for revising the working hour system. Earlier in June, Minister of Labor Lee Jeong-sik entrusted the work to the expert group upon announcement of the government’s intention to revise the system.
The essence of the revision of the working hour system is to extend the unit of measurement of overtime hours that is currently computed on a weekly basis. Under the current 52-hour workweek system, workers work 40 hours a week and may work an extra 12 hours per week as overtime. The proposal intends to regulate overtime hours not on a weekly basis but on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or yearly basis and allow a “weekly average” of 12 hours as overtime. Under the revised system, workers may work flexible hours and use one’s overtime hours as their schedules demand, for example, at the end of the month, every half-quarter, or in the beginning of the year.
The expert group suggested three alternatives - calculation on a monthly basis (plan A), calculation on a monthly, quarterly, and half-yearly basis (plan B), and calculation on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly basis (plan C). Plan B and Plan C, which suggested multiple units of measurement, have given several options among which workplaces could choose the one most suitable for the nature of the work done at the relevant workplace. A detailed plan of implementation has yet to be devised.
The expert group stated that the extension of the unit of measurement of overtime hours would be introduced along with the measure to guarantee the right to 11 consecutive hours of rest periods, thereby limiting the maximum hours of daily work to 11.5 and the maximum hours of weekly work to 69. It added that other ways to protect workers’ health rights would be introduced.
Ae-Jin Ju firstname.lastname@example.org