South Korea passes bill to reduce 68-hour working week

12 March 2018

South Korea’s National Assembly has passed a bill aimed at shortening working hours despite businesses' concerns about increased labour costs.

An article by HR Review explains that the shorter work week is intended to help improve quality of life and boost birth rates, which hit record lows last year. The working hours under the revision comprise 40 hours a week and up to 12 hours for overtime work – making a new 52-hour week. Under the current rule, a worker can be expected to labour for a maximum of 68 hours, including up to 16 hours on the weekend.

According to a report by the Guardian, South Korean's work about 400 more hours a year compared with workers in the UK, about 10 additional standard work weeks, despite having relatively similar average incomes.

The UK’s Working Time Regulation (WTR) provides the right to a limit of an average 48 hours a week on the hours a worker can be required to work (normally averaged over 17 weeks). Individuals can choose to work more by opting out of the 48 hour week. Workers under the age of 18 can't work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week under the WTR.

South Korea’s Minimum Wage Commission has set the minimum hourly wage for 2018 at 7,530 won (approximately £5.08), the steepest on-year increase in 17 years. The goal is for this to increase to 10,000 won (£6.75) by 2020.

Below is a stark comparison and reminder of what the minimum wages in the UK rise to from 1 April: