Labor group calls for scrapping proposed longer workweek

SEOUL, March, 16 (Yonhap) -- A major labor umbrella group called on the government Thursday to scrap its proposal for a longer workweek, warning that it would ultimately result in overwork.

Under the government's proposed revision announced earlier this month, the legal cap on weekly work hours would be raised to 69 hours from 52 hours, on the condition that the total work hours in a month or longer periods do not exceed the limit in the current 52-hour workweek system.

However, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions voiced concerns about the potential health complications that could arise from working such long hours.

"A human body is not a machine," the federation said in a press release while holding a press conference.

The revision allows companies to manage overtime not only weekly but on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis so that employers can choose more hours during weeks with heavy workloads and fewer hours during weeks with less work.

However, the union argues this proposal lacks a realistic possibility since a survey shows that 1 in 3 workers are currently unable to use all of their annual paid leave days.

The union also sided with young people who complain that the proposed revision could worsen their work-life balance and labeled the government's proposal as "irresponsible."

Following the backlash, President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered the government to take a complementary measure on the proposed workweek while carefully listening to the voices of non-union members, workers at small and medium-sized firms, and 'MZ workers,' using a Korean portmanteau for millennials and Gen Z.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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