One of the World’s Hardest Working Countries is Finally Giving Their Employees a Break

South Korea has initiated a move to encourage local companies to provide an improved work and family life balance for their employees.

The initiative, which is jointly run by the government and private sector groups, seeks to change some common practices done by employers in order to develop a more positive work and non-work environment, the Korea Times reported.

Among the main points the campaign wants to address is the fact that some companies usually require their employees to provide a reason in writing for taking some days off. The initiative now would put a stop to such practice as it  reportedly discourages some people from even asking for vacation leaves in the first place,

In addition, promoters of the campaign also want to prevent  bosses from calling or emailing employees during non-office hours. The program also pushes to stop bosses from pressuring employees into working overtime or attending after-work dinners. It also seeks to encourage a more positive language to be used with employees, especially those who need to be with family.

The campaign is seeking full cooperation from companies’ senior managers, while rank and file employees are encouraged to share knowledge about expressions that help or deter work-family balance.

According to Gender Equality and Family Vice Minister Koh Young-sun, it is important for both the public and private sectors to work together to “fundamentally change” the working culture of the country.

South Korean employees are among the hardest working in the world, punching in the longest hours at an average of 2,163 hours per year, according to the 2015 survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Comparatively, the Germans work for 1,388 hours a year while Americans works 1,789 hours per year.

Understanding that employees need more supportive and flexible working practices, the Seoul city administration even began allowing staff to take naps in specially created rest areas in 2014.

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