Gov’t to give grace period to small firms for 52-hour workweek system

SEOUL– The government will give a one-year grace period to small businesses with five to 49 employees for a mandatory 52-hour workweek system to relieve a worsening workforce shortage they are facing, the labor minister said Friday.

The move comes after such small firms will no longer be able to add eight hours of overtime work in accordance with a rule that is set to be abolished Saturday.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor said smaller businesses with five to 49 employees will be immune from punishment for any violations of the 52-hour workweek system for another year starting Sunday.

“Some 630,000 workplaces with 5-29 employees responsible for the jobs of 6.03 million people are suffering from a chronic labor shortage,” Labor Minister Lee Jeong-sik said during a meeting with heads of relevant government agencies, adding that such shortage is expected to worsen following the abolition of the overtime work rule.

The minister said the government will also consider extending the grace period.

The 52-hour workweek system was introduced in 2018 and applied first to large businesses with 300 or more employees in July that year before being expanded to firms with 50 to 299 employees in January 2020.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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