Japan has tried to do something similar.
Overtime seems to be a norm when it comes to Asian culture. But the South Korean government hopes to change that. Their solution: the South Korean government shuts down computers to prevent overtime.
Working late is seen to be a sign of productivity and to show off how hardworking you are. It is a common way for many to "prove" to their superiors that they are serious about their careers.
But overtime has also led to many societal problems and side effects in mental and physical health of employees.
That is why the South Korean government feels strongly about setting a "work curfew" to curb employee overtime.
It has put forth a new initiative to ensure all its employees in the capital of Seoul leave work on time. The plan is to roll out the "curfew" in stages.
For the first phase in end March, employees’ computers will be shut off at 8 p.m. on Fridays.
In the second phase to be implemented in April, computers will be shut off by 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Friday of the month. And finally, in the third phase, due to begin in May, computers will turn off by 7 p.m. every Friday.
According to OECD, South Korea has the third longest working hours in the world. Of course, this is pretty reflective on its stellar economic growth.
Its average employee works 2,739 hours a year. That's 1000 hours more than workers in other developed countries. (Sadly, Singapore's average working hours per year also stand at about 2,371.)
Though laws are in place to protect workers from working more than 40 hours a week, with an additional 12 hours of paid overtime, employees tend to just continue working beyond what they are being paid for. Previously, the maximum weekly working hours in South Korea was 68 hours.
The government had already decreased that number to 52 hours earlier in the year.
Though this move, which will be implemented by the Seoul Metropolitan Government on a mandatory basis, may be a welcome move to many, 67.1% of the workforce have since requested to be exempted from it.
Japan, another country which has high average annual working hours (1,713), has similarly attempted to implement measures to cut back workers’ hours. Last year, after a woman committed suicide due to overwork, the government rolled out ‘Premium Fridays’, a privilege which gives employees the option of leaving work early on the last Friday of the month.
Yet in the year since it was launched, only 11% of the workforce has participated.
What do you think about the move which the South Korean government shuts down computers to prevent overtime? Do you wish something like that would happen in Singapore?
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