‘Holiday in lieu’ system nets praise and criticism

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‘Holiday in lieu’ system nets praise and criticism

Jang Seong-min, 42, enjoyed five days off from his job at a large local conglomerate during the Lunar New Year holiday this year.

Although the actual holiday period was three days, because the eve and Lunar New Year fell on Saturday and Sunday, Jang received two days off during the week in lieu.

Jang’s company has a “holiday in lieu” system, which gives employees a weekday off if a public holiday falls on a weekend. “[The long Lunar New Year holiday] was really great because I was able to have those days off and relax a bit,” said Jang.

It’s not so cut-and-dried for others. Yun Jang-hyuk, 51, the head of a small manufacturing company, said he is agonizing over whether to implement the holiday in lieu system.

“If I follow through with the system, productivity at the factory will go down and I will have to pay more labor fees,” he said.

Yun added that he is seriously considering moving his factory to China if the government decides to make the system compulsory.

Those in favor of and opposed to the holiday in lieu are involved in a close tug of war. There are already seven bills submitted to the National Assembly regarding the system.

The pro side says that the system will help raise tourism revenues and domestic demand - ultimately aiding economic growth. The Korea Culture and Tourism Institute released data recently that states that if the four public holiday days which fall on a weekend this year are given as holidays in lieu, it will create 85,282 new jobs for people.

During a public hearing on the system last Wednesday at the National Assembly’s Public Administration and Security Committee, Kim Nam-jo, a tourism professor at Hanyang University said, “By giving these holidays back to workers, their quality of life will be improved and excessive working hours will be reduced.”

However, many companies are opposed to the plan. Like Yu, executives and company heads say that the system will lower productivity and result in extra labor costs.

The Korea Employers Federation said that if the holiday in lieu system is implemented, Korean companies will lose around 12 trillion won ($10.5 billion).

By Kim Ki-chan [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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