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Constitutional Court upholds 52-hour work limit

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : March 4, 2024 - 18:00

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The Constitutional Court has unanimously upheld the constitutionality of a law restricting the workweek to a 52-hour maximum, the court said Monday.

In its decision delivered Thursday, the nine-member court unanimously ruled that the Labor Standards Act, Article 53, Section 1, specifying that the 52-hour workweek system is legitimate and appropriate as it is designed to protect the health and safety of workers by reducing actual working hours and discouraging overtime work on holidays.

Under the act, enacted in 2018, working hours shall not exceed 40 hours a week and eight hours a day, while extended work hours should be limited to up to 12 hours per week, therefore, the maximum for weekly working hours is 52 hours.

The Constitutional Court explained that employers and workers may face restrictions on their freedom of contract and occupation hindered by the 52-hour workweek system, but that the need to resolve the long-standing problem of long working hours was greater.

"The legislators judged that it is important to improve the labor practices distorted by long work hours, despite the damage done to workers themselves, including low wages," the court said, adding that such judgments are not without rationality.