SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s leading lenders have wrapped up their labor deals for the new year that aim to help employees better strike a balance between work and their personal lives, industry watchers said Monday.
Late last week, the labor and the management of KB Kookmin Bank reached a deal on wages and other working terms after monthslong wrangling that caused a strike for the first time in 19 years.
With the deal, Kookmin became the final entity among the country’s five banks that include Shinhan, Woori, KEB Hana and NongHyup Banks to sign a 2019 deal.
There are differences in details, but the lenders decided to adopt shorter working hours following the new 52-hour workweek regime.
In July last year, South Korea cut its maximum weekly working hours to 40, plus 12 hours of overtime, per week from 68. The goal is to reduce chronically long working hours. Businesses were granted a six-month grace period from penalties to make the switch.
Banks say they will introduce the “PC off” system, where banks shut down workers’ personal computers at the office during lunchtime or after the computers have been on for a set period of time, while abolishing unnecessary meetings and fine-tuning business hours.
They also agreed to delay the starting age for the wage peak system by one year compared with the state guidelines. Under the system, employees get reduced salaries for several years right before retirement.
As part of efforts to encourage and support their childbearing and child rearing, the lenders are to implement diverse measures, such as the extension of related leave, according to the watchers.
“The new deals are expected to promote workers’ greater work-life balance, though it remains to be seen how smoothly such changes will take place,” a bank official said.