South Korea Cuts ‘Inhumanely Long’ 68-Hour Work Week

Employees in one of the most overworked countries in Asia are about the get a break after South Korea passed a bill to reduce the typical work week in an effort to improve quality of life and boost employment.

South Korea’s National Assembly overwhelmingly passed the law which cut the maximum weekly work hours to 52, down from 68. The law comes into force in July and will apply to large companies before being rolled out to smaller businesses.

The cut was a campaign promise by President Moon Jae-in, who also secured a 16% increase in the minimum wage this year.

The law faced opposition from businesses but was seen as necessary to improve living standards, create more jobs and boost productivity. It is also aimed at increasing the country’s birth rate, which hit record lows last year.

As South Korea’s economy boomed in the ’80s and ’90s, a workaholic culture took hold and the birth rate plummeted. Chung Hyun-back, the gender equality and family minister, has called the country’s working hours “inhumanely long” and said they were a factor in the South’s rapidly ageing society.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Benjamin Haas