While the new 52-hour rule for employers with 300 or more employees is set to take effect on July 1, the government has announced that it will allow employers found in violation of working-hour rules to have the “correction period” of 28 days (exclusive of public holidays) during which they can avoid immediate punishment. The introduction of such system is aimed at encouraging the labor and management to voluntarily resolve issues rather than blindly producing law-breaking companies.
According to the rules about general duties of a labor inspector released by the Ministry of Employment and Labor Tuesday, when spotting an employer in violation of the 52-hour rule, a labor inspector should first issue a corrective order and give it seven days as a correction period. Employers can extend the period by seven days when they have reasonable causes such as the need for discussion between the labor and management. Since a correction period excludes public holidays and Saturdays, it usually lasts over 14 days. Employers that disobey an order or do not show an willingness to correct the issues are subject to criminal penalties and judicial action.
An investigation into the violation of working hours usually entails an inspection of delayed payment of wages because it is likely that the employer caught violating the rules has only paid an amount corresponding to legal work hours. In case of overdue wages, employers are also not subject to immediate punishment but given a corrective order and the period of 14 days. They can extend the period by another 14 days with justifiable reasons while Saturdays and public holidays are not counted as a corrective period.
In the end, from the perspective of employers, they can avoid punishment for up to 14 days and 28 days, respectively, when found in violation of working-hour rules and delayed payment of wages. Considering that most cases include both violations at the same time, employers are likely to have the corrective period of 28 days on average.
Some say that the correction period needs to be further extended in order to prevent numerous employers from turning into lawbreakers. One observer from the business circle said that the current correction period is too short and the extension of the period to around two months will be greatly helpful for businesses. Yet, an official from the Ministry of Employment and Labor drew a line, saying, “The ministry is not considering the extension of the period.” Still, the official added that the ministry plans to provide as much support as possible during the correction period so that the labor and management can voluntarily solve problems and do not need to go through judicial action.
Sung-Yeol Yoo email@example.com