Workplace bullies could now go to jail in South Korea

Seoul 19

Seoul, South Korea (Valery Rabchenyuk, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Writer, Formative Content


South Korea is introducing new laws to stamp out workplace bullying – and persistent offenders could face hefty fines or even time in prison.

The ban doesn’t just relate to direct physical or verbal abuse. It includes behaviour like gossiping about colleagues, ignoring them, or assigning more work than they can reasonably handle.

It also outlaws forcing employees to drink, smoke or attend company functions.

Counter culture

Workplace harassment is widespread in South Korea, according to a report by the National Human Rights Commission, cited in The Korea Herald. Almost two thirds of employees say they have experienced it at some point in their working life, with around 12% enduring bullying on a daily basis.

Few people report such behaviour, due in part to the lack of a legal framework to protect workers and the existence of many powerful family-run conglomerates in the country.

Research also suggests cultural attitudes could influence how people see workplace bullying, and many employers don’t acknowledge that a problem exists.

But it’s sometimes difficult for bullies to hide in the social media age and unacceptable behaviour is increasingly gaining global media attention.

Recent examples include a disgruntled drive-through customer who returned his order by throwing it in a restaurant worker’s face. And the now infamous Korean Air incident, in which a woman hurled abuse at flight attendants who served her nuts in a packet instead of a bowl.

The new rules aim to eliminate “gapjil” –the country’s term for workplace bullying. Offenders face a prison sentence of up to three years or a maximum fine of $25,000.

Victims of this kind of abuse can now apply for compensation. Once an incident has been brought to light, employers are banned from dismissing or taking punitive action against the person who reported it.

Beating the bullies

As well as making life at work miserable for victims, bullying can result in low morale and stress, and lead to conditions like anxiety or depression.

Harassment is also costly for companies – The Korea Herald cites South Korean government estimates of almost $4 billion a year, including costs relating to staff morale, lost productivity, medical and insurance outlay.

Laws to tackle the issue are already in place in many countries. Sweden was the first to outlaw workplace bullying in 1993, and legislation has since spread throughout Europe and other parts of the world, including Canada and Australia.

But there are a few notable exceptions, including the US. Although laws exists to counter discrimination, the country has no federal legislation to tackle abusive workplace conduct.

Image: Statista

As the above chart shows, verbal abuse and threats are the most common form of bullying in US workplaces, with little difference between the numbers of male and female victims experiencing it.

2017 Workplace Bullying Institute survey shows harassment affects almost 60% of American workers and there’s a large gender divide among those responsible.

 

Men account for 70% of workplace bullies in the US, and target female over male victims by almost two to one. More than two thirds of the victims of female bullies are women.

In more than 70% of cases, employers either did nothing about the reported behaviour or conducted a “sham” investigation, according to the research. The abuser was punished in just 6% of cases.

Japan is another country without a law restricting workplace abuse. Almost a third of people surveyed there, both male and female, told Human Rights Watchthey had experienced harassment in the past three years.

But the problem persists even in countries with anti-bullying legislation. A YouGov Poll for the Trade Union Congress (TUC) found almost a third of UK workers had endured workplace bullying.

This costs the UK economy almost $22.5 billion in absences, staff turnover and lost productivity a year, according to a study by ACAS.

Losses on this scale provide a huge incentive for companies to foster an inclusive working atmosphere where hostile behaviour is not tolerated.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

A net-zero world needs zero-carbon concrete. Here’s how to do it

Spending another 3 billion euros on Turkey feels better than admitting EU’s failure

EU clears way for the EU Digital COVID Certificate

A multipolar world brings back the national champions

Scaling for success: SMEs, tech innovations and the ITU Telecom World Awards 2019, in association with The European Sting

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

The dirty secret of electric vehicles

The best companies to work for in 2020, according to Glassdoor

As tech disrupts our jobs, it’s not too late to turn pain into gain

Future of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh ‘hangs in the balance’ – UNHCR chief

MWC 2016 LIVE: The top 5 themes of this year’s Mobile World Congress

State aid: Commission approves €6 billion Italian schemes to support SMEs affected by coronavirus outbreak

Destigmatizing women in surgery, one inspiration at a time

Strengthening European unity is in all our interests, says Luxembourg PM Bettel

How COVID-19 is helping Oman develop a future-ready workforce

“Joining forces to #BeatPollution”, a Sting Exclusive by the Head of UNEP in Brussels

These 3 World Heritage marine sites store billions of tonnes of CO2

First 17 “European Universities” selected: a major step towards building a European Education Area

State aid: Commission approves close to €94 million support for waste-to-energy high-efficient cogeneration plant in Bulgaria

MEPs call for free movement across borders to be swiftly and fully re-established

Electronic cigarette – is it really a safer alternative to smoking?

What our leaders hide from us

Depression is the no. 1 cause of ill health and disability worldwide

How has tech been used for good in civil society? We asked the experts

The new ethical dilemmas in medicine of the 21st century

Fair completion rules and the law of gravity don’t apply to banks

EU–Canada Summit: strengthening the rules-based international order

The new North America trade deal USMCA punishes German cars

Cohesion Policy: involving citizens to ensure better results

At G20 Summit OECD’s Gurría says collective action vital to tackle global challenges

Asian and Pacific economies: decreases in tax revenue highlight need to broaden tax bases

London to say hello or goodbye to Brussels this week

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

Microplastics have been found in Rocky Mountain rainwater

European Citizens’ Initiative: A game of much publicity and one big lie

Stability in Europe has no chances because of Ukraine

Coronavirus: Commission proposes EU Strategy for the development and availability of therapeutics

This is the hidden connection between smuggling and climate change

I’m not feeling lucky: The “Right to Be Forgotten” ruling puts Google inside a box

The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

Palliative Care: an approach to comprehensive care in Universal Health Coverage

These countries are driving global demand for coal

For video game addiction, now read official ‘gaming disorder’: World Health Organization

Who and why want the EU-US trade agreement here and now

Aid used for trade is helping developing countries diversify

Invisibility outside the closet: health as a right for all

How Cameron unwillingly helped Eurozone reunite; the long-term repercussions of two European Council decisions

2016 crisis update: the year of the Red Fire Monkey burns the world’s markets down

Fighting trafficking in human beings: new strategy to prevent trafficking, break criminal business models, protect and empower victims

State aid: Commission approves €24.7 million of Italian support to compensate Alitalia for further damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

Commission to invest €14.7 billion from Horizon Europe for a healthier, greener and more digital Europe

Prospect of lasting peace ‘fading by the day’ in Gaza and West Bank, senior UN envoy warns

Secretary-General calls for global participation in UN75 dialogues for better future for all

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

State aid: Commission approves €2 billion Italian guarantee scheme to support trade credit insurance market in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The world’s landmine stockpiles in numbers

With science ‘held back by a gender gap’, Guterres calls for more empowerment for women and girls

Coronavirus spread now a global emergency declares World Health Organization

UN chief of peace operations honours fallen Chadian ‘blue helmets’ serving in northern Mali

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s