Saf Health Work.  2017 Dec;8(4):343-346. 10.1016/j.shaw.2017.05.002.

Long Working Hours in Korea: Based on the 2014 Korean Working Conditions Survey

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Occupational Health, Catholic University of Daegu, Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea. jsunpark@chol.com
  • 2Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ulsan University Hospital, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Ulsan, Republic of Korea.
  • 3Department of Sociology, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Long working hours adversely affect worker safety and health. In 2004, Korea passed legislation that limited the work week to 40 hours, in an effort to improve quality-of-life and increase business competitiveness. This regulation was implemented in stages, first for large businesses and then for small businesses, from 2004 to 2011. We previously reported that average weekly working hours decreased from 2006 to 2010, based on the Korean Working Conditions Survey.
METHODS
In the present study, we examine whether average weekly working hours continued to decrease in 2014 based on the 2014 Korean Working Conditions Survey.
RESULTS
The results show that average weekly working hours among all groups of workers decreased in 2014 relative to previous years; however, self-employed individuals and employers (who are not covered by the new legislation) in the specific service sectors worked > 60 h/wk in 2014.
CONCLUSION
The Korean government should prohibit employees from working excessive hours and should also attempt to achieve social and public consensus regarding work time reduction to improve the safety, health, and quality-of-life of all citizens, including those who are employers and self-employed.

Keyword

employee; employer; Korea; self-employed; working hours
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