IN an attempt to combat long working hours, South Korea’s government is forcing its employees in the capital to leave the office on time by shutting off all the computers at 8pm on Friday.
According to the BBC, this is aimed at stopping at culture of working overtime in a city that struggles with work-life balance.
To help employees adjust to the new initiative, Seoul Metropolitan Government is rolling it out in three phases. The first will begin on March 30, when all computers will be turned off at 8pm on Friday.
In April, employees will have to down tools at 7.30pm on the second and fourth Friday of the month.
The final phase begins in May, when the permanent cut-off time of 7pm will be implemented every Friday.
South Korea struggles with some of the longest working hours in the world. A 2016 government survey found South Korean public servants work about 1,000 hours more a year than public workers in other developed countries.
While the idea of being told to leave the office at a reasonable hour might sound great to many, the majority of employees are not happy about the new scheme. The government office said almost 70 percent of people have asked to be exempt from the power down initiative.
Most of them will be disappointed, however, as only in special circumstances will exemptions be permitted.
Earlier this month, South Korea’s national assembly passed a law to cut down the maximum weekly working hours to 52, down from 68.
While long work hours were once considered necessary to fuel rapid economic growth, the grind is now seen as the source of the country’s social problems, including low birth rate, productivity, and rising suicide rate.