Not hiring if you suspect you have cardiovascular disease… The Severe Disaster Act Encourages Fairness Controversy

Illustration = Reporter Choo Deok-young

“When hiring new employees, inquiries about existing medical history checks are increasing rapidly. You can feel how the Serious Accident Punishment Act is changing the corporate hiring culture as well.”

Ha Seong-wook, director of the Strategic Planning Department at the KMI Institute of Korean Medicine, said: Even before the Serious Disaster Act came into effect on January 27, next year, many companies, regardless of industry and field, have been significantly strengthening their recruitment health checkups. In particular, as the Ministry of Employment and Labor expressed the position that “deaths from brain and cardiovascular diseases can also be subject to punishment under the Serious Accidents Act,” companies are in a state of extreme tension. It is a shock to companies because chronic diseases were not previously considered to be punishable.

○ Health check-up is stricter when hiring

Company A, a large domestic online shopping mall, has changed the hiring process for delivery drivers from the second half of this year. Previously, after a brief interview followed by a paid driving training period to observe driving habits, they were hired if there were no abnormalities. Recently, however, it has been made mandatory for all applicants who have passed driving training to undergo a physical examination at a designated hospital. In addition, if a specific ‘disease code’ related to cardiovascular disease is issued, the company has changed its policy not to employ it. This means that if there is a suspicion of high blood pressure, angina, myocardial infarction, or stroke, it will not be removed. Although there is a shortage of articles due to the increase in volume due to COVID-19, this decision was made in consideration of the Severe Disaster Act. The plan is to avoid a situation in which the CEO may be held responsible if the underlying disease goes wrong.

The same is true of Company B, a large foreign retailer. As it is not a manufacturer, the possibility of an industrial accident is not high, but if the new inspection results in a ‘re-inspection’, it will not be hired. This is because it is often necessary to go to work early in the morning or to carry heavy items alone. “In the past, if there were no major problems, the order of hiring was through re-examination, but that has changed now,” said a person in charge of human resources at the company. inquired. The official said, “There is a big concern that if a foreign CEO is punished, he may not be able to return to Korea.”

Company C, a large domestic company, prepared guidelines to exclude those with an occupational disease from hiring, and strengthened the screening procedure for the results of medical examinations. In the second half of the year, the procedure has been double-strengthened, such as requesting a specialist to review all the opinions from an individual specialist while conducting a ‘pre-placement inspection’, which is a special health checkup conducted before hiring and job suitability evaluation.

The medical community analyzed that the recruitment health checkup was practically just a ‘food procedure’, but that has changed now. The annual recruitment health checkups at the KMI Korean Medical Research Institute were 69,971 in 2019 and 56,636 in 2020, but as of November this year, when the Severe Disaster Act was outlined, the number reached 74,294.

○ Growing concerns about legal disputes

At Company A, an experienced job applicant who received a passing notice after driving training received a final rejection notice after passing the physical examination, and it was unfair to say. He claimed that he was an unfair dismissal because he was a nominee and was waiting for an appointment after passing the exam.

Companies are also terrified about whether they will be subject to sanctions if they refuse to hire them for reasons of worker health. Unless the disabled, the Labor Standards Act, the Fair Recruitment Process Act, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act do not contain any specific sanctions against refusal to hire for health reasons, but companies judge that it cannot be ruled out as a human rights issue.

As a result, HR officials say that there is a growing possibility that hiring refusals for health reasons will be negative. This is because it is rare for a company to disclose the reason while notifying the rejection, so the possibility of this problem being exposed to the outside is low. An official from a large corporation said, “As the serious accident law as well as the company’s disadvantages due to industrial accidents are large, there are growing calls to reduce risks at the hiring stage.”

By Kwak Yong-hee/Baek Seung-hyun, staff reporters [email protected]

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