Nov. 6, 2017
The Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL, Minister Kim Young-joo) has published a 'health protection handbook for workers engaged in emotional labor', which has been pursued as one of the new government's policy tasks to protect emotional laborers.
Verbal and physical violence against workers engaged in emotional labor is becoming a serious social problem, as shown by the suicide of a high school student doing an internship at a call center and the killing of a worker visiting a home to repair internet connection.
Nevertheless, there are no guidelines in place to protect such workers systematically. So it has been argued that the government is doing little to protect emotional laborers.
When explaining the background of its publication, an MOEL official said "Because it takes a while to introduce legislation to protect workers engaged in emotional labor, we will distribute this handbook first to encourage interest and active protection measures among employers."
The handbook contains the definition of emotional labor, explanations of why it is necessary to manage emotional labor, health protection measures for emotional laborers and companies' best practices.
Its main content includes giving workers the right to stop work in the event of physical violence by clients, providing opportunities for victims to receive psychological counseling and treatment and taking response measures, such as providing necessary legal assistance in seeking civil or criminal action.
It even includes measures to prevent health problems among emotional laborers, such as providing customer service manuals, displaying a message asking people not to do any act that might cause stress and refraining from excessive monitoring at work.
The handbook also contains various evaluation forms and companies' best practices to enable even non-specialists to assess the level of emotional labor and the risk of physical violence in the workplace and to come up with health protection measures that suit their workplace characteristics.
In an effort to disseminate the handbook, MOEL will hold a series of information sessions for government agencies, public institutions and workplaces with a large number of emotional laborers in November.
The Ministry will also provide continuous on-site guidance to workplaces through its labor inspectors and private institutions specializing in accident prevention. The handbook will be made available for easy download and use on the websites of MOEL, KOSHA and other related organizations.
"I hope that 'the published health protection handbook for emotional laborers' will be helpfully used to protect the human rights and health of workers engaged in emotional labor," said Kim Wang, the Director-General of the Industrial Accident Prevention and Compensation Bureau at the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
"We will provide thorough guidance so that measures described in the handbook can take hold across workplaces as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we will make efforts to ensure the passage of the related legislation during this year's regular session of the National Assembly because protection measures for emotional laborers must be made into law if they are to be effectively implemented."