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Korea to get extra day off if Buddha's Birthday, Christmas fall on weekend

A traveler is seen pulling a suitcase in the Myeong-dong shopping district of central Seoul on March 12. (Yonhap)
A traveler is seen pulling a suitcase in the Myeong-dong shopping district of central Seoul on March 12. (Yonhap)

South Korean workers will enjoy an extra day off if either Buddha's Birthday or Christmas overlaps with a Saturday or Sunday following a law revision, the Ministry of Personnel Management announced Wednesday.

A new revision of the "Regulations on Public Holidays of Government Offices" will be presented to the public Thursday, allowing for alternative public holidays following Buddha's Birthday or Christmas for the first time.

Koreans celebrate Buddha's Birthday on April 8 according to the lunar calendar and Christmas on Dec. 25 according to the solar calendar.

This year, Buddha's Birthday falls on May 27 according to the solar calendar, which is a Saturday. Swift presidential approval of the law revision could mean that an alternative day off will be granted to Korean workers on May 29, which is a Monday.

The revision meant to "ensure the right to sufficient rest for workers, prop up consumption and improve the domestic economy," Personnel Management Minister Kim Seung-ho said in a statement.

The rule will require approvals from the Ministry of Government Legislation, the Cabinet and President Yook Suk Yeol's office. It does not need parliamentary approval.

Buddha's Birthday and Christmas are among 15 public holidays recognized by Korean law.

Others include New Year's Day, the Lunar New Year holidays or Seollal (spanning over 3 days), March 1 Movement Day, Children's Day, Memorial Day, the Chuseok holidays (spanning over 3 days), National Liberation Day, National Foundation Day and Hangeul Day.

In 2013, Seoul introduced plans to offer workers an extra day off if the Seollal, Chuseok or Children's day holidays happened to occur over a weekend.

Alternative days off were also introduced in 2021 for March 1 Movement Day, National Liberation Day, National Foundation Day and Hangeul Day.

Under the law, private companies of at least five employees are required to offer their employees paid time off on public holidays or the alternative public holidays, as revisions of the Labor Standards Act went into full effect in 2022, meaning almost all Korean workers will either be taking a rest, or getting compensated for working on such public holidays.



By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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