Work regulations are too rigid in Korea, the FKI argues
Korea’s working hour system is more rigid than that of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain and France, and the system needs to be improved, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) said Thursday.
According to the FKI, Korea not only regulates working hours on a daily and weekly basis, but also has the shortest period of flexible and selective working hours.
Korea limits working hours to eight a day and 40 a week.
The United States and Britain restrict the number of legal working hours by week, while Germany has daily limits.
Even overtime working hours in Korea are limited by week, whereas in the U.S. there are no overtime limits.
Japan and France only limit overtime by month or on an annual base.
The relaxed restrictions allow workers and companies to schedule their working hours more effectively and quickly respond to a temporary increase in the workload.
Overtime costs are high in Korea. The overtime pay has to be 50 percent of wages, whereas in Japan and France, it ranges between 25 and 50 percent.
In Korea, the flexible schedule of working hours is done on a half-yearly basis.
In the United States, Japan and Germany, it is an annual calculation, according to FKI. In France, it is done on a three year basis.
The lobbying group also claimed that there were exceptions in the United States, Japan, Germany and Britain based on industry.
In the United States and Japan, there is a regulation that exempts executives as well as high-paid professionals from overtime restrictions, such as the U.S. “white-collar exemptions.”
Germany has a working time account system, in which overtime hours are saved in an account and freely taken out when vacation or rest is needed.
Through this, companies can effectively utilize working hours in response to economic volatility and demand, while workers can still balance between work and life.
As of 2018, 85 percent of German companies with 500 or more employees adopted the working hours saving system.
Germany also has an on-call work system that allows the employees to be called in to work when needed. When called in, their presence is counted into their working hours or as overtime.
As of 2017, 15.3 percent of all workers in Germany were on the on-call work system.
Britain has “Zero-hour contracts” in nursing, teaching, administrative work, cleaning and childcare.
Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden have similar contract systems.
“The current working time system in Korea is an outdated framework that does not fit the fourth industrial era where creativity and diversity are emphasized,” said Choo Gwang-ho, head of the FKI’s economic division. “It is necessary to actively promote flexible working hours by referring to the systems of advanced countries.”
BY JANG GU-SEUL [firstname.lastname@example.org]