According to the job portal Job Korea, 70% of Korean employees work overtime and 85.5% of employees do business by text messaging after working hours.
Likewise, many employees in Korea work overtime and later get together after leaving the office. Also, in severe cases, some employees must return after they have left their office for the day again because of boss’s orders. The problem in this situation is that workers’ rights and the appointed working hours are being ignored. Particular in IT, more and more workers commit suicide every year because they are overworked. In fact, Korea exceeded the average annual working hours of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and consequently they are faced with the danger of being kicked out of this organization. In light of this, let’s compare the working hours and happiness index of life between Korea and other countries in OECD.
OECD consists of 35 countries. The average annual working hours of people all over the world is 1770 hours but the average annual working hours of Koreans is 2885 hours. Korea is at the top for most working hours of all OECD countries. In other words, Koreans work two months more than Japanese and four months more than Germans. Also, Korea is ranked 36th in terms of labor force for working hours, and 27th in use of personal time including sleep and meal times. Koreans are very unbalanced at work and their personal life.
In contrast Paris, France is the top ranked for having the lowest average annual working hours in OECD. Their government recommends their companies to keep working hours limited to 35 per week. So they work about 6 hours a day. Recently, beginning in January 2017, they passed a bill that gives employees the right to not respond to calls from their boss outside of business hours. The purpose of this is to protect employees privacy.
In Copenhagen, Denmark workers enjoy having a breaks. Their average annual working hours are 1697 hours and they are ranked the happiest country in the world. The most unusual thing is that all of the people in Denmark immediately respond that they are happy when they are they are asked about their happiness.
In Luxembourg, they have the most vacation in the world as they average 32 days per year and their annual working hours is 1703. Also, their wage per hour is the highest in the world. It is equivalent to 47000 won in Korea.
In Helsinki, Finland, a country that pursues political stability and low working hours, they work an average of 1695 hours a year and have 29 days of vacation. Also, many employees chose it as the country with the best welfare system.
We have now compared various OECD countries with Korea. Considering how other countries work and balance their personal lives, if Korea can balance personal life and work, the efficiency of work would be expected to improve. To do that, society needs to respect and protect the human rights of employees at the national dimension.