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Hyundai, Kia workers return to workplaces to handle virus impact

All News 10:50 March 23, 2020

By Choi Kyong-ae

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said Monday they have asked employees to resume work at their workplaces to better cope with the growing impact of the spreading coronavirus outbreak on their businesses.

The carmakers' employees have been ordered to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since Feb. 27.

"We are planning to temporarily adopt flexible working hours instead of the intensive work system (which encourages employees to focus on work from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) to reduce close contact among employees," a company spokesman said.

This photo, taken March 18, 2020, shows newly built vehicles waiting to be shipped at Hyundai Motor's port of its main plant in Ulsan, 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Hyundai and Kia made the decision unlike other local conglomerates, which extend work from home guidance for their workers as the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak is having an impact on their production facilities in major markets.

Last week, the carmakers suspended most of their plants in the United States and Europe, and on Monday, Hyundai Motor halted operations of its plant in India due to the local government's suspension order for manufacturing companies.

Shares in Hyundai Motor had plunged 6.3 percent to 66,700 won and Kia stocks had fallen 8.5 percent to 22,100 won as of 10:30 a.m., in line with the broader KOSPI's 6.3 percent loss.

Still, other major conglomerates are sticking to a remote-working scheme, albeit not in a full-blown mode.

SK Group, a refinery-to-semiconductors conglomerate, said it has decided to extend work from home guidance to most affiliates through the end of this month.

"Employees at main affiliates SK Corp., SK Telecom Co. and SK Innovation Co. will continue to work at home for another week, but those at SK hynix Inc. will continue to go to workplaces," a company spokesman said.

SK hynix is the world's second-biggest memory chipmaker after Samsung Electronics Co.

Samsung Group and LG Group said they have selectively adopted "work from home" guidance for their employees depending on business characteristics.

Chemical-to-telecom conglomerate LG Group has asked pregnant employees and those who have to take care of children due to the closure of kindergartens and a delayed start of the spring semester to work at home.

Samsung Group, the country's biggest conglomerate by assets, has made pregnant employees and employees at its plants in Daegu, the local epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, work from home.

Local companies have entered an emergency management system to minimize the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their businesses as the virus does not show signs of slowing across the globe.

South Korea has reported 8,961 confirmed coronavirus cases and 111 related deaths as of Monday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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