Parliamentary committee passes bill on reduced working hours

SEOUL  — A South Korean parliamentary committee on Tuesday passed a bill aimed at shortening legal working hours despite businesses’ concerns over its possible impact on corporate productivity.

The revision bill calls for reducing the country’s maximum statutory working hours to 52 hours a week from the current 68 hours.

The working hours under the revision comprise 40 hours a week and 12 hours available for extended work. Currently, a worker is to labor for 40 hours a week, up to 16 hours over the weekend and 12 hours for extended work.

The National Assembly’s environment and labour committee endorsed the bill after marathon negotiations that stretched into the wee hours of the morning.

The envisioned cut in working hours is one of President Moon Jae-in’s key election pledges to enhance the quality of life for laborers and help create jobs.

To cushion the possible impact from the reduction, the revision will be applied in stages.

It will be applied to companies with 300 or more workers on July 1, while firms with 50 to 299 workers and those with five to 49 will be subject to the new rule starting January 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, respectively.

Under the revision, working hours for workers between the ages of 15 and 18 will be reduced to 40 hours a week from the current 46 hours.

The parliamentary committee also agreed to curtail the number of business types exempt from the working hour limits from the current 26 to five that involve transportation services and health care.  — YONHAP

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