Working an extra 300 hours per year more than any other developed countries, South Korea is known for their workaholic culture. It is fair to say, that they are one of the most overworked countries in Asia. As a result, South Korea has seen a dip in figures of productivity and birthrates.
President Moon Jae-In has taken it upon himself to improve productivity and birthrates. As he aims to give South Koreans a more work-life balance, a 52-Hour-Cap has been introduced.
This new labour reform allows South Korean workers to work up to 40 hours a week with a 12 hour overtime limit. This is as opposed to the previous laws which enabled workers to work up 52 hours a week with a limit of 16 hours of overtime. The cut in hours is drastic and it is fair to say that there has certainly been a difference in opinions on this new reform.
Some of the negatives comments have revolved around the fact that this reform will cost businesses billions of dollars. Not only that, but smaller businesses who cannot afford to pay large salaries may have to pick up extra part-time work. Consequently, this reform may be counter-productive as free evening time, turns into extra work time. Some people are also questioning if more free time will even lead to a higher birthrate.
On a more optimistic note, some people are delighted with the extra free time on their hands. The pressure of working can be linked to South Korea’s high suicide rate and drinking culture. If this work-life balance doesn’t improve productivity or birthrates, it can certainly promote a healthier lifestyle.