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Korea Enterprises Federation supports a 69-hour workweek

Korea Enterprises Federation supports a 69-hour workweek

Posted March. 23, 2023 07:50,   

Updated March. 23, 2023 07:50


The business leaders have officially rebutted what they describe as “the labor sector’s distortion of facts” about the government’s workweek reform proposal.

On Wednesday, the Korea Enterprises Federation distributed reference materials entitled “Fact Check on Government’s Legislative Notice” in response to a controversy over work-hour reform, marking the first official response from major economic interest groups after President Yoon Suk Yeol’s instruction to “rethink the labor reform” on March 14.

The KEF said that the term “69-hour workweek” was inappropriate. “A 69-hour workweek is a calculation of a specific six-day workweek while the units for managing extended work hours have been expanded to a monthly basis,” the KEF stated. It further argued that in a situation where most workplaces adopt a five-day workweek, the 69-hour workweek scheme is simply allowing workplaces to use it when necessary, and the system does not promote 69 hours of working every week.

The KEF also refuted the labor sector’s argument that increasing work hours will drive up the number of people dying of overwork. “Deaths from cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases have increased after the workweek was shortened to 52 hours," the KEF stated. "It cannot be seen that all deaths were caused by overwork."

As to the criticism that the overtime hours saving system, which allows workers to save overtime hours as time-off, is out of touch with reality, the KEF pointed out that the corporate culture in Korea, which makes it difficult for workers to take a long-term vacation. “Infeasibility of the overtime hours savings system is mainly because of the culture within the workplace, lack of substitute workers, and workers’ preference for wage compensation instead of taking time off,” the KEF stated, arguing that the labor reform and taking vacations are discrete issues.

The business sector is concerned that the government’s legislative proposal may be reduced or abolished as the controversy over the work-hour reform intensifies and President Yoon's de facto guideline stating that “working more than 60 hours a week is unreasonable.”

The Korea Enterprises Federation plans to hold a debate over the working hour reform proposal and push forward the legislation. The Federation of Korean Industries and other business organizations are expected to present their opinions regarding the workweek reform.

Gun-Huk Lee gun@donga.com