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Workplace harassment decreasing after enforcement of anti-bullying law in 2019

All News 15:57 July 15, 2022

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- Instances of workplace harassment have modestly decreased for the past three years after the implementation of a workplace anti-bullying law in 2019, a poll showed Friday, though the degree of abuse felt by the victims is still serious.

According to the recent poll of 1,000 salaried workers by pollster Embrain Public, 29.6 percent said they experienced workplace bullying this year, marking a decline of 14.9 percentage points from 44.5 percent in a similar poll conducted in 2019.

In a similar outcome, the percentage of workers who feel a decline in workplace "gapjil," a Korean term meaning abusive attitude and behavior by those in positions of power, increased by 28.5 percentage points from 31.9 percent in 2019 to 60.4 percent this year, the pollster said.

This file image from Yonhap News TV depicts acts of bullying at workplaces. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This file image from Yonhap News TV depicts acts of bullying at workplaces. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The poll was commissioned by Gapjil 119, a civic group dedicated to stamping out power abuse by people in higher positions, on the occasion of the third anniversary of the workplace anti-bullying law.

Under the revision of the Labor Standards Act, which took effect on July 16, 2019, if workplace harassment is reported, employers should launch an immediate probe and take proper action. Employers could face a maximum three-year prison term and a fine of up to 30 million won (US$24,750) should retaliatory or discriminatory measures be taken against victims or those who report abusive acts.

People's awareness of the anti-bullying law has also increased. In 2019, only 33.4 percent of people were aware of the existence of the law, but the ratio has steadily increased, reaching 71.9 percent this year.

But the severity of damage felt by harassment victims appears to remain at a level that cannot be ignored. Among those who experienced workplace harassment, the ratio of people describing their damage as serious increased slightly from 38.2 percent in 2019 to 39.5 percent this year, the pollster noted.


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