The authorities of South Korea’s capital city are demanding that workers there work less and not more – unlike some employers.
And to prevent workers from working too much, the authorities are even planning to switch off lights and are shut down their computers.
With the aim of discouraging workers from working overtime till late at night, the power at Seoul City Hall would be switched off starting this week, at 8 p.m. every Friday. The deadline for the shutdown will be advanced to 7 p.m. from May this year.
For employees and workers in South Korea, it is quite common and a way of life to work for long hours where workers start the day early and end up working late virtually every day. The social consequences of working late and over working are also a cause of concern in Japan.
Dr. Ijin Hong, a professor of welfare state research at Yonsei University in Seoul said that even if employees are entitled to time off at work, the employers in South Korea is very reluctant to grant them that off time during work hours.
Especially impacted by the long punishing work hours are government employees. A government survey in South Korea that was released in January claims that every year one an average, about 1000 hours more is spent by South Korean employee at work than any of the other developed countries.
Hojin Choi, a spokesperson for the Seoul’s government said that they are hoping that the private employers would follow the example set by them of lowering of work hours by shut downs on Fridays so that more can be done to foster the concept of achieving a balance between work and social life.
However, many say that it could be a tough task to enforce the new routine. An earlier attempt by the government to put off lights by 6 p.m. on Fridays led to numerous requests for exemptions.
This time the government has taken a step further by planning to shut down the computers of workers. The government has also made it clear that no request for allowing to work beyond that prescribed cutoff time would be entertained unlike the last time.
This measure would be an effe3ctive one for reducing the working hours of employees, said Hong, the Yonsei University professor.
“This is really unprecedented,” she said.
The issue of overwork has turned out to be hot topic of debate ibn South Korea in recent times. workers were given an extra public holiday last year and President Moon Jae-in has vowed to reduce the working hours for employees.
Hong said that unlike in the past, “it’s becoming more acceptable to point out that there are problems” in the nation’s work culture.
She however added that the efforts of the Seoul government to put off lights on Fridays would mostly remain a symbolic action unless the action was replicated by private companies who begin to recognize rights of employees for reduced working hours even while exhibiting that the output of the workers would not be impacted by the reduced hours.
(Adapted from Money.CNN.com)