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Companies scramble to handle anti-office bullying act

Posted July. 05, 2019 07:39,   

Updated July. 05, 2019 07:39


A slew of postings came up on a Korean financial firm’s board, the anonymous online workplace community, saying they are looking forward to July 16. One posting specifically mentioned a manager, adding he won’t sit on his hands anymore and do something about the shames he had been put through. Others on a different firm’s board asked about how one should report over a boss paddling his influence. July 16, the date they are all waiting for, is the enforcement day of the anti-workplace bullying act.

According to industry professionals, the HR and legal departments of major local businesses are on emergency mode to draw up rules of employment that include the provisions of office bullying act. If they fail to reach an agreement with labor unions to establish a clear definition of bullying and set up relevant penalties before July 16, the company is subjected to a fine worth 5 million Korean won.

Samsung Electronics has already completed the process and kicked off an education program at company-wide level. Employees at Hyundai Motor have all received an email titled “the provisions of anti-office bullying that you must know.” An official at Hyundai said that the management is consulting with the labor union and editing the rules of employment.

All in all, major companies in South Korea are welcoming the institution of a new law, but concerns remain that it might lead excessive penalties. Some argue there needs to be a training to build “bullying perception sensitivity,” pointing out the lack of a clear definition of bullying. “Verbal abuses or physical assaults are certainly a problem, but I am concerned if my drive for productivity will backfire and brand me as a “bully boss,” confessed an employee from a large-sized company at a managerial position.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com · Seng-Hyun Kang byhuman@donga.com