South Korea is a country where working to excess is considered normal, especially among public servants who are at the office 1000 hours more per year than in other developed countries. To try and combat this "culture of working overtime,” the government in Seoul is introducing a new initiative that will ensure its employees leave on time by shutting down all computers at 8 pm on Fridays
According to the BBC, government employees in South Korea work an average of 2739 hours per year. For comparison, public workers in member countries of OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) work 1763 hours annually.
The “shutdown initiative” is being rolled out in three phases across the next three months. Starting March 30, all Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) employees will have their computers shut down by 8 PM on Fridays. The second phase begins in April and will see the computers shut down at 7 PM on the second and fourth Friday of each month. The third and final stage starts in May, when the shutdown takes place at 7 PM every Friday.
An SMG statement said all employees will be subjected to the shutdown, though it is willing to make exemptions in special circumstances. But it seems the majority of workers aren’t willing to have their overtime cut—67.1 percent of government employees have asked to be exempt from the initiative.
The move comes after a recent law was passed by South Korea’s national assembly that reduced the maximum number of weekly working hours from 68 down to 52.