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Samsung’s flexible hours get more malleable

May 30,2018
Samsung Electronics announced plans to revamp its flexible working hours on Tuesday in preparation for the 52-hour work week that will be legally enforced from July.

The Korean electronics giant plans to allow employees to decide their own working hours on a daily basis, as long as they work for at least four hours a day. Employees need to work an average of 40 hours a week on a monthly basis. The new system will come into effect from July.

Under the new arrangement, an employee can work 50 hours in a busy week and then 20 hours in a quieter week during the same month. As long as the hours worked in the rest of the month add up to average 40 hours a week, the employee is free to balance their work as they please.

This offers more flexibility for workers than the company’s current system, which allows employees to begin work anytime between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. as long as they work at least four hours a day and 40 hours a week. Samsung started the current flextime program in 2012.

The Moon Jae-in administration revised the labor law to reduce weekly working hours from 68 to 52, or 40 hours a week with up to 12 hours of paid overtime. Companies with 300 or more employees are subject to the new regulations from July.

Samsung will also adopt a discretionary system for workers that struggle with tight schedules due to the nature of their work, such as developing new products and technology.

Under the discretionary system, employees working on high-intensity projects will determine with their managers roughly how many hours a week the work should take. While the project is ongoing, workers will then have complete autonomy, with no checks or limits on how often or how much they’re working provided the task gets done, and will be paid for the number of hours agreed at the start of the project.

“If an employer and employee agree on a 50-hour workweek for a certain period of time, the company gives a wage based on the contract regardless of whether the employee worked that much or not,” said a spokesperson from the electronics giant. “This kind of system is only applicable for certain tasks that require worker autonomy, like developing new products.”

The new flextime arrangements will apply to researchers and office workers at Samsung Electronics.

For manufacturing workers, Samsung plans to adopt a different flextime option that allows for periods when demand is especially high for specific products.

Factory workers will be able to coordinate their working hours so they meet an average 40-hour workweek over a three-month basis. This way a team of assembly line workers can work longer hours for the first 10 weeks, for instance, and then reduce their workload in the remaining two weeks.

Samsung affiliates are likely to announce similar schemes in coming weeks.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]