SK Hynix tries a 52-hour workweek, more friendly titles

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SK Hynix tries a 52-hour workweek, more friendly titles

SK Hynix, the chip-making unit of SK Group, will launch a pilot work schedule with a maximum of 52 hours per week to see if it can improve its employees’ work-life balance.

The plan, which starts next month, is part of measures the company announced Wednesday to enhance its corporate culture.

When the 52-hour system goes into effect in February, the company will monitor how many hours each employee spends at work. If the number exceeds 52, the employee’s manager will be notified and discuss the issue with the employee.

To help the program work, the chipmaker will adjust shuttle bus schedules for employees and improve related IT system infrastructure.

“We are trying to detect in advance problems that may occur,” said Moon Yu-jin, head of human resources at SK Hynix. “At the same time, we need to bring fundamental changes to the corporate culture with increasing diversity and millennials making up more than half of all our employees.”

Under current law, the maximum number of working hours per week is 68, but the government is taking legislative steps to slash it to 52. If a bill on lower working hours passes the National Assembly, companies with 300 or more employees will be subject to new rules starting in July.

The world’s second-largest memory chip producer is following in the footsteps of its competitor Samsung Electronics, which introduced a 52-hour workweek last September. In the retail industry, Shinsegae has pioneered a 35 hour workweek at Shinsegae department stores and Emart discount chains from the beginning of this year, which translates into seven hours per day, even though some have criticized the company for actually wanting to reduce worker’s take-home pay after a hike in the minimum wage.

SK Hynix will allow its staff to choose which hours to work - a flexible working hour system - starting in March. Workers will have to be on the job four or more hours a day and at least 40 hours per week. The flexible work schedule is limited to certain business departments thus far.

In another change to its corporate culture, SK Hynix will end the convention of addressing coworkers by their job positions in some units, which could help relax an overly hierarchical culture. After getting feedback, the company will decide whether to apply the system to all departments.

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