South Korea proposes raising work week to IMPROVE work-life balance
South Korea proposes raising 52-hour week to 69 HOURS – to IMPROVE work-life balance
- South Korea’s employment minister wants longer work week to boost fertility
- He said hours cap rise to let women work less when pregnant or raising children
South Korea’s government has proposed raising the nation’s 52-hour weekly working hours cap to 69 hours in a bid to improve work-life balance.
The labour minister said yesterday that increasing the cap by a third will give working mothers more choice and help them raise children amid growing concerns over the country’s falling birth rates.
The government says allowing workers to accrue more overtime hours in return for time off later will mean people who want to take longer breaks – such as parents or caregivers – will be able to do so.
‘We’ll introduce bold measures to help cut working hours during pregnancy or while raising children,’ the minister, Lee Jung-Sik, told a media briefing when asked whether the labour reform proposal will help tackle South Korea’s fertility crisis.
Critics of the measure, however, have said that the measures will hurt, not help, working mothers and other women.
South Korean lawmakers and protesters during an anti-government rally on Tuesday
Lee Jae-Myung (pictured on Screen at South Korea’s National Assembly), leader of the main opposition Democratic Party with a parliamentary majority, said his party would block the bill
President Yoon Suk Yeol (pictured) on Wednesday ordered ‘bold measures’ to tackle the country’s fertility rate
‘While men will work long hours and be exempt from care responsibilities and rights, women will have to do all the care work,’ the Korean Women’s Associations United said in a recent statement.
South Korea has the lowest fertility rate in the world – with just an average 0.78 children being born per woman in 2022.
President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday ordered ‘bold measures’ to tackle the country’s fertility rate.
South Korean labour minister Lee Jung-Sik has proposed raising the weekly work hours cap from 52 to 69 hours
The ministry said the labour reform proposal, first unveiled in December and officially announced on Monday, is part of efforts to bring more labour flexibility and improve work-life balance in a country where many women are forced to choose between their career and raising children.
It would supersede a 2018 law that limited the work week to 52 hours – 40 hours of regular work plus 12 hours of overtime. The Ministry of Employment and Labor said the law has made the labour market more rigid.
While the move has been welcomed by business interest groups, it has been criticised by the opposition and unions as neglecting workers’ rights.
‘It will make it legal to work from 9am to midnight for five days in a row. There is no regard for workers’ health and rest,’ the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said in a statement.
Lee Jae-Myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party with a parliamentary majority, said on Wednesday that his party would block the bill.
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