Workplace Harassment & Employer's Obligations
Recent amendment to the Labor Standards Act("LSA") reinforces the employer's obligations and sanctions against employers who breach their obligations regarding workplace harassment.
Previous LSA required an employer who receives a report or becomes aware of harassment in the workplace to conduct an investigation to confirm the relevant facts without delay and, according to the results of the investigation (Article 76-3), take measures with respect to employees who are victims of harassment and harassers, but did not impose separate sanctions for failure to comply with the above obligations.
However, the amended LSA now provides the following obligations and sanctions to the employers;
First, when an employer receives a report or becomes aware of the occurrence of workplace harassment, the employer shall conduct an objective investigation regarding the employee concerned.
Second, those who (i) investigate the occurrence of workplace harassment, (ii) report the details of the investigation, and (iii) participate in the investigation process shall not disclose any confidential information learned in the course of the investigation.
Third, if an employer or his/her relative engages in workplace harassment, a fine not exceeding KRW 10 million shall be imposed, and a fine not exceeding KRW 5 million shall be imposed for failure to comply with the obligations to take necessary measures such as (i) investigation of workplace harassment, (ii) protection of employees who are victims of harassment and disciplinary action against harassers, or (iii) disclosure of any confidential information learned during the investigation.
With this amendment of the LSA, it is likely that the labor authorities will show active interest in how businesses manage workplace harassment cases by conducting inspections, therefore it would be important for the companies to conduct an internal review of how workplace harassment claims are handled to ensure compliance with the obligation to take appropriate measures.