A National Assembly committee on Tuesday passed a bill that slashes maximum working hours including overtime per week from 68 to 52. If the revision is passed in the plenary session Wednesday, it will be implemented in companies with 300 employees or more from July 1.
Companies with between 50 and 299 will have to implement it by January 2020, and those with five to 49 from July 2021.
Korea has the longest working hours in the developed world.
Overtime pay on public holidays will be 150 percent of the normal wage. The ruling and the opposition parties agreed to allow eight hours of special extended working hours for businesses with 30 staff or fewer until 2022 amid intense lobbying from small and medium-sized businesses.
There are currently 26 sectors including storage, security, and accommodation where additional working hours are allowed given the nature of the work. But that will be limited to five vital sectors only including shipping and medical services.
Businesses said they respect the consensus politicians reached but called for measures to alleviate pressure on companies. But labor unions are upset, arguing that they will eventually reduce paychecks.
The Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business said its members will need to employ 440,000 additional workers due to the shorter working hours, and smaller businesses say the burden is too much since they already struggle with the drastically increased minimum wage.