(Maekyung DB)

Over the surface of the discussion on the adjustment of the ’52-hour workweek’…尹Government to introduce American-style ‘white-collar execution’?

(Maekyung DB)

The plan to expand labor-management options regarding the working hours system was included in the ‘110 national tasks’ announced by the transition committee on the 3rd. With the easing of the current ’52-hour workweek system’ as the main focus, attention was paid to ‘relaxation of working hours for startups and professionals’ as a specific plan. In this regard, it is known that the transition committee is considering the introduction of a ‘white collar exemption’.

‘White-collar Exemption’ is a working system that does not apply overtime allowance and minimum wage to high-income workers whose annual wage income is above a certain amount. It was created in the United States with the purpose of paying wages based on performance because it is difficult to measure the performance or quality of work in proportion to working hours for high-ranking officials, administrators, and professionals. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act in the United States, office workers with an annual salary of $100,000 or more cannot receive overtime pay, but receive additional pay based on future work performance. It is a concept similar to performance pay in Korea.

Japan also introduced the ‘high-level professional system (without hourly wage system)’ in 2019, modeled after the white-collar expulsion in 2019. This is a system that excludes the application of annual holiday regulations or working hours regulations when a worker with an income of 10.75 million yen (approximately 105 million won) or more is engaged in a job that requires highly specialized knowledge.

According to the current Labor Standards Act in Korea, working hours are limited to 52 hours per week. As the scope of application of the 52-hour workweek was expanded from July last year, opinions were raised in the IT and start-up industries that productivity and competitiveness are lowered due to lump-sum regulations that do not take into account the characteristics of the industry and the size of the company. In this regard, during the presidential election, President-elect Yoon proposed ▲extension of the optional working time settlement period to one year ▲introduction of an annual working hours savings account system ▲exclusion of working hours restrictions for professional jobs.

In order to introduce the white-collar exemption system in Korea, revision of the Labor Standards Act is necessary. However, difficulties are expected until the bill is amended. On the 8th of last month, Minjoo Party spokeswoman Lee Su-jin said, “I am concerned that overtime work will become hell again with the introduction of white-collar exemption and the expansion of selective working hour settlement.” It must not be resurrected.”

[고혜영 인턴기자]

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