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Hyundai Department Store slashes workdays for sales staff

June 29,2018
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Hyundai Department Store begins a nationwide summer sale on Thursday that will last until July 15. The company also announced on Thursday that its sales staff will leave work one hour earlier, starting next week. [HYUNDAI DEPARTMENT STORE]
Hyundai Department Store is introducing last-minute measures to comply with the new 52-hour workweek, which goes into effect next week.

Korea’s third-largest department store chain is reducing the working hours of its sales staff by one hour, the company said on Thursday.

“It’s a measure that will catch up with today’s social atmosphere that emphasizes work-life balance,” said the company in a statement.

Fifteen department stores and four discount outlets nationwide will be affected by the measure. Sales workers who used to come to work at 10 a.m. and left at 8 p.m. will go home at 7 p.m. starting July 1.

The stores’ operating hours, however, will remain 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The one-hour vacuum left by the change will be filled in by the heads of each sales department and other workers taking turns in groups of 10.

“We also took into account concerns among our business partners that their revenues will be hit hard when the operating hours shrink, as the economic slowdown is already continuing,” said a Hyundai spokesman.

The company launched a pilot program that let sales employees leave work 30 minutes early in April, and the experiment was a success.

Hyundai’s department store rivals - Lotte and Shinsegae - were quicker to slash either their working hours or operating hours, as they started to do so late in May. Hyundai is noted for its conservative work system, but it had to yield to the industry-wide trend, according to an insider.

Shinsegae Department Store announced earlier this week that it would delay its opening time by one hour to 11 a.m. starting on July 2, with the exception of its main store in central Seoul and branches in Gangnam and South Chungcheong. Its closing hours will be the same as before, at 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 p.m. on weekends. Lotte has yet to adjust the operating hours for its department stores.

Lotte Confectionary, Lotte Chilsung, Lotte Liquor and Lotte Food also announced on Thursday that they hired 200 more manufacturing workers to cope with the new workweek. The additional workers make up more than 10 percent of the entire existing production work force.

The four affiliates have also vowed to introduce a flexible working hour system based on a three-month basis, given that seasonal demand in the food business fluctuates heavily.

Lotte, the fifth-largest conglomerate in Korea, has been particularly proactive about the government’s move to improve the country’s working environment.

Thirty of its subsidiaries have designated hours that employee computers must be shut off to make sure employees cannot work before 9:30 a.m. or after 6:30 p.m.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]