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Flexible working-hour agreement is achieved

Feb 20,2019
A flexible working-hour agreement has been reached with the averaging period taken from three to six months.

The period is only half of what the business community had proposed, while the labor demand for business to step up efforts to protect the health of workers was accepted, according to the subcommittee of the Presidential Economic, Social and Labor Council working on the agreement.

“The flexible working hours will be signed in a written agreement. When the flexible working hours exceed three months, the daily working hours will be scheduled weekly, and the worker should be notified two weeks prior,” said Lee Cheol-soo, a labor law professor at Seoul National University and head of the labor hour subcommittee of the council on Tuesday. “In terms of health concerns over extending the flexible working hours to more than three months to protect the employees from overwork, we have agreed to require employees take 11-hour continuous breaks.”

The Blue House on Tuesday welcomed the subcommittee’s agreement on flexible working hours.

“This new social discussion body that was created less than three months ago solved a very important issue in our society, which is very meaningful,” said the Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

“Expanding the period in which the flexible working hours will be applied while protecting the health rights and the wages of laborers will be recorded as a milestone that shows our society can take a new path through negotiation and compromise,” Kim added.

The Blue House also expressed its appreciation to the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korea Employers Federation.

“This agreement will help workers to balance their work and life while creating jobs and enhancing company productivity by helping the shorter workweek, which was enacted on July 1 last year,” Kim said.

With the agreement reached, it is likely that the new flexible working-hour terms will be accepted by the National Assembly this month.

Ruling Democratic Party floor leader Hong Young-pyo last week said his party will push the legislation even if the presidential council fails to reach a conclusion.

The agreement came a day after the subcommittee failed to reach an agreement after 10 hours of relay negotiations. The labor union raised concerns over health risks from overtime work and shrinking wages. The meeting was delayed more than two hours on Monday due to picketing by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions which, unlike the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, did not participate in the negotiations.

Under the new agreement, an employee can work for 40 hours in the first three-month period and 64 hours for the next three months, which brings average weekly working hours to 52.

Under the current system, an employee can work 64 hours a week for six weeks and 40 hours a week for the remaining six weeks.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]