This year, Chuseok is constantly brought into conversation not only because it is the earliest Chuseok after a 38-year hiatus but also an ‘alternative holiday’ plan is being newly implemented. The alternative holiday is the designation of a work day as a holiday when Lunar New Year’s Day or Chuseok overlaps with another day off such as a weekend. For instance, when Children’s Day falls on a Saturday or another holiday, the following work day becomes a temporal holiday. Once this system becomes fully implemented, eleven working days will turn into temporal holidays. The system was founded in 2012 from a presidential election pledge by both parties. However, in September 2013, it eventually became law but it only applies to the public sector. The private sector is not required to apply the system as it would violate the autonomy of private sector. In regard to the system, some people agree that it will improve the quality of workers, especially those who suffered long office hours compared to other OECD countries. However, others are deeply concerned about economic losses in the long term and the discrimination of equal rights between workers in the public and private sectors. To investigate student opinion, the Sookmyung Times asked students whether they felt the alternative holiday system is really beneficial.
The Alternative Holiday System Should Not be Implemented
Yang Sohee / Department of History & Culture ‘14
When considering the sincere meaning of the holiday, implementing an alternative holiday is obviously unjust.
First of all, according to the definition of holiday, an official holiday is also known as a national holiday or celebration day. That is, holidays are designated by the government and provide citizens time to relax. ‘Relax’ does not mean people ought to feel at ease. Instead, people should think deeply about designated holidays, considering their original purpose or intent. In this context, an alternative holiday shows the need to put the cart before the horse since a holiday is not designated for rest; we rest because it's a holiday.
Furthermore, replacing specific holidays for alternative holidays disregards the true value of each holiday, which should not be discriminated according to merit and demerit. Surely, it is a pleasure to have more holidays. Moreover, most people believe one more holiday wouldn’t really matter. However, it is inappropriate to implement the alternative holiday system just because we need more holidays in the name of better efficiency and convenience.
Besides, the unreasonableness of adding an alternative holiday can be linked to the economy. According to a study, implementation of the new system will result in a 32.4 trillion won loss. In addition, it will overload the pressure of small-scale businesses of less than twenty workers trying to manage their businesses. What's more, some argue that benefits will only be given to permanent workers, instead of equally benefiting both permanent and temporary workers, which will also lead to too much pressure on temporary workers. Since companies are the organization pursuing their own interest, they will necessarily put a lot of effort into overcoming these losses. Because of the losses due to the alternative holiday, another solution must be sought. Finally, this will result in prolonged working hours or increased temporary positions. Last, it overburdens workers and lowers efficiency.
Concerning these aspects, I strongly argue that the alternative holiday system should not be implemented in Korea.
Joe Yujin / Department of TESL ‘13
Nowadays, the quality of life is the most important factor in life. Therefore, alternative holidays are necessary. They are effective and contribute to society, and there are three parties that will gain benefits from it.
First, at the individual level, employees can enjoy more holidays as they are already overworked. According to an OECD report, while the work hours of developed countries do not exceed 1,800 hours a year, Korea’s worker work 2,163 hours. This shows that workers do not have enough personal time. Thus, when employees can get additional holidays, they can use their time to improve their quality of life by traveling or enjoying leisure activities. As a result, alternative holidays promote the welfare of employees.
Secondly, companies can profit from alternative holidays. When workers are well rested, their work efficiency may increase. In Korea longer working hours do not result in more productivity. Korea’s Productivity Center compared labor productivity per hour country-by-country, and Korea’s labor productivity ranked 28th among 34 OECD countries. Therefore, alternative holidays can solve the issue of low productivity. Also, they increase worker satisfaction and as a result, companies can prevent an outflow of workers.
Last but not least, Korea, as a country, will be able to revitalize its economy. Its industry focuses on exports, which is vulnerable to change in other countries, so domestic consumption should increase, in order to develop the domestic economy. Consequently, when the alternative holiday system is adopted, people will spend more and it will activate the domestic economy. Furthermore, companies will produce more products since there will be more consumption, and this will lead to a growth in Korea’s GDP.
To sum up, alternative holidays have many advantages, in terms of economics and worker happiness. Moreover, the constitution states, in Article 10, “All citizens shall be assured of human dignity and worth and have the right to pursue happiness.”