On 16 July, 2019, the workplace anti-bullying law came into effect. This law was put into place to prevent harassment in the workplace. However, few people know about this law. Let’s see what can be changed in the workplace.
There have been many different types of bullying in the workplaces for a long time. There’s a case in which a woman who came back to work from her maternity leave was bullied by her colleagues and finally left work. It often happens that bosses force their co-workers to drink at company dinner.
A survey shows that 80% of employees feel bad or uncomfortable after work, being stressed out from excessive tasks or forced to go to company get-togethers, etc. And in 2017 the National Human Rights Commission of Korea announced that 73.7% of 1500 workers from 20 to 64 years old answered that they have experienced workplace harassment. In Korea, as in many other countries, workplace harassment has been one of the serious problems of society. To protect workers from bullying, violence, and harassment including bad working condition, the workplace anti-bullying law was put in place.
Now, what kind of actions can be judged as workplace bullying by law? There are three requirements: using superiority like status or position at workplace, exceeding the range of proper degree at work, and causing pain or aggravating work environment. Workers can be at a risk of bullying when they work in a highly competitive environment.
On July 16, the day the workplace anti-bullying law became effective, the announcers at MBC submitted a complaint to the Seoul Labor Office against their company for its violation of the new law. They insisted they were not treated as regular announcers when they resumed their office after a strike in May. As it hasn't been long since the law went into effect and people are interested in its final judgement; their action was paid a lot of attention from people.
By forbidding harassment by law, human rights and the right to work can be protected. Although the law doesn’t have punishment regulations and strict restrictions, workplace bullying is prohibited and workers can be protected from bad and illegal practices in the workplace by law. Each company’s regulation will help to solve harassment.
We can expect that workplace environments will be better because employers will treat employees more politely and employees will act more carefully. Workers have the right to be treated with dignity and respect as workers. In addition, there are many support programs for workers and they can make use of them. Workers can see more details on the website for the Ministry of Government Legislation.
The vital provisions of the workplace anti-bullying law are as follows;
Article 76. 2. (Prohibition against Workplace Harassment): No employer or employee shall cause physical or mental suffering to other employees or deteriorate the work environment beyond the appropriate scope of work by taking advantage of superiority in rank, relationship, etc. in the workplace (hereinafter referred to as “workplace harassment”).
Article 76. 3. (Measures to Be Taken in Cases of Workplace Harassment):
1. Anyone who has learned the occurrence of workplace harassment may report such fact to the employer.
2. Where an employer receives a report under paragraph 1 or is aware of the occurrence of workplace harassment, he/she shall, without delay, investigate the case to ascertain the fact.
3. Where necessary to protect employees who suffer or claim to suffer workplace harassment (hereinafter referred to as “victimized employees, etc.”), while investigation under paragraph 2 is conducted, the employer shall take appropriate measures for the victimized employees, etc., such as transferring their place of work or ordering them a paid leave of absence. In such cases, the employer shall not take measures contrary to the will of the victimized employees, etc.
4. Where the occurrence of workplace harassment is verified as a result of investigation under paragraph 2, the employer shall take appropriate measures for the victimized employees, etc., such as transferring their place of work, giving them a lateral transfer or ordering them a paid leave of absence, if the victimized employees, etc. make a request.
5. Where the occurrence of workplace harassment is verified as a result of investigation under paragraph 2, the employer shall, without delay, take necessary measures, such as taking disciplinary measures against the perpetrator of workplace harassment or transferring his/her place of work. In such case, before taking disciplinary measures, etc., the employer shall hear opinions of the victimized employees, etc. on such measures.
6. No employer shall dismiss employees who report the occurrence of workplace harassment, victimized employees, etc., or treat them unfavorably.
(quoted from the website of the National Law Information Center)