SEOUL, April 10 (Korea Bizwire) — Telecommuting has been rapidly spreading among South Korea’s small and midsized companies, as well as among their larger counterparts, as part of their efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Employment and Labor said Friday.
The ministry said a total of 2,602 small businesses had applied for government subsidies awarded to flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting, from Feb. 25 to Tuesday.
Currently, small and medium-sized enterprises introducing flexible work arrangements, such as flextime and working from home, are eligible to claim an annual subsidy of up to 5.2 million won (US$4,300) per worker.
In response to the spread of COVID-19, the ministry has temporarily simplified the application procedures for the flexible work arrangement subsidy.
The ministry said the 2,600-odd businesses requested subsidy payments for 30,514 workers. Of them, 16,023 workers, or 52.5 percent, are working from home, it noted.
Another 12,527 workers, or 41.1 percent of the total, are using flextime under which employees are allowed to choose their working hours, the ministry said.
By contrast, only 33 small business employees had applied for telecommuting-related subsidies by Feb. 24 this year.
“Following the coronavirus outbreak, working from home has become the most popular flexible work arrangement,” a ministry official said.
He noted small businesses in the information and telecommunication and manufacturing sectors accounted for 25.4 percent and 24.4 percent, respectively, of the total subsidy applicants.
Meanwhile, 84 small and medium-sized companies have applied for a government subsidy of up to 20 million won per company by April 7 this year to build telecommuting-related infrastructure, the ministry said.