An amendment to the Labor Standards Act (LSA) containing new provisions regulating workplace harassment has taken effect. This amendment is the first instance in Korea of legislation that expressly defines and sets forth fundamental principles to regulate workplace harassment, and it applies to any workplace with five or more employees. In advance of the effective date of this new law, the Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) released a manual to provide guidance on the identification of, prohibition of, and countermeasures against workplace harassment.

In Section 2 of Article 76, the amended LSA defines “workplace harassment” as “an act of an employer (or business owner) or employee (or worker) that causes physical or mental suffering or worsens the working environment of another employee/worker by taking advantage of his/her status or relationship within the workplace beyond the appropriate scope of work.”

Additionally, the amended LSA outlines employers’ obligations regarding workplace harassment as follows:

The amended LSA employs a broad definition of “workplace harassment” and does not impose penalties, such as fines, for violation of the relevant provisions. However, the amendment mandates that employers include provisions that prohibit workplace harassment and establish countermeasures against it in the employer’s rules of employment. The employer must then report such changes to its rules of employment to the MOEL.


The amendment demonstrates the government’s express intent to address workplace harassment. Thus, stronger regulatory measures are likely to follow, and companies may want to consider taking the following steps:

Written by Robert R. Flemer of Kim & Chang and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins

© 2019 Kim & Chang and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.