More Workers Paid Compensation for Mental Suffering

  • By Lee Ki-hun

    June 01, 2018 13:23

    The number of workers paid compensation for developing psychological problems from work-related stress or accidents has risen sharply last year, according to a report.

    The report by the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency said 514 compensation claims were paid out over the last decade, some 126 last year alone, up 5.3 times from 24 in 2008.

    Complaints for which compensation is available include anxiety disorder or depression. The most prominent example is Park Chang-jin, the purser who was assaulted by Korean Air heiress Cho Hyun-ah in the 2014 "nut rage" scandal and won compensation for his resulting depression.

    Similar instances of relentless bullying are often behind the claims. 

    Researchers said the rising number of claims can be partly explained by the growing publicity given to abuses by bosses or seniors in the workplace.

    "Thirty percent of workers asking for compensation say that they have been bullied by their co-workers," said Kim In-ah at Hanyang University. She pointed out that a growing service industry that needs more labor and a broader acceptance of compensation claims also played a role in increasing the figures.

    Workers no longer feel they must grin and bear abuses, and the stigma surrounding psychological problems is slowly disappearing. But the problem remains rife.

    A report on workplace bullying by Korea Labor Institute suggested that 66.3 percent of Korean workers experienced bullying, with 68 percent of them reporting they felt angry, frustrated or anxious.

    Some 28 percent of respondents complained of insomnia, and nine percent said they are on medication. "More and more workers are becoming mentally unhealthy," Kim said, adding that "more efforts should be made to prevent abuse in the workplace rather than just paying compensation to victims." 

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