South Korea is taking its crackdown on working overtime seriously.
After approving a bill earlier this month to cut the maximum weekly work hours from 68 hours to a comparatively relaxed 52, the government has introduced an initiative to enforce these new rules.
Starting at the end of March, the government will roll out a “shutdown initiative” for its employees, to be implemented in three phases. For the first phase, employees’ computers will be shut off at 8 p.m. on Fridays.
In the second phase, 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.
Government employees in South Korea out-work its counterparts in other countries by close to 1,000 hours a year. The government hopes that the new initiative will force its employees to begin leaving on time.
Japan, another country that suffers from chronic over-work, 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,’ 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, according to government sources.
It remains to be seen whether the automatic nature of Seoul’s initiative will drive higher levels of compliance.