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Small companies giving up on extended May holiday

All News 09:38 April 17, 2017

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- Most conglomerates are giving their employees extra vacation days around holidays early next month, but many employees at smaller companies will have to keep working to meet manufacturing and supply deadlines, company officials said Monday.

The first week of May has three holidays coming every other day. Most conglomerates are letting their staff take the days in between off, giving workers up to nine days off when including the two weekends. Some can take as many as 11 days off because May 9 has been temporarily designated as a holiday for the presidential election.

"The circumstances for big firms and smaller companies are different," said an official at a storage tank manufacturer at an industrial complex in Changwon, southeast of Seoul. "We have to deliver the order within the deadline. We can't even think of resting for nine or 11 days."

An official at a household appliance firm said smaller businesses cannot even find replacement workers. "If our employees take days off, the company is burdened with having to search for workers to take their place because we can't stop our manufacturing lines," he said.

The widening gap in pay and other fringe benefits between small firms and business groups is one of the leading reasons why jobseekers look to big name companies. The job market is seriously contracted with conglomerates minimizing new hires due to an economic slump, but some smaller companies are still short on staff.

Small companies giving up on extended May holiday - 1

A worker at a packaging firm in Uijeongbu, just north of Seoul, said he will be working throughout the week, without a single day off. "We have to box the exports. We have to meet shipping deadlines, so we won't get any vacation," he said.

Another worker at a construction company said all staff at the firm work six days a week, regardless of whether it's a holiday. "Because the working conditions are this harsh, there are hardly any Koreans at construction sites, only Chinese."

Even when working for conglomerates, employees at resorts, department stores and giant retailers also have to give up on extended vacations.

"I know I will be working every day that week," an employee at a top resort said.

Some smaller companies are compromising by allowing partial vacations. Winix, which produces air purifiers, said it will give employees one day off during the week to make it a five-day holiday.
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