After an 8-year fight by UNI affiliate KHMU (Korea Health and Medical Workers Union), Healthcare Personnel Support Act was passed unanimously on 5 April 2019 by Korea’s National Assembly. The new law is groundbreaking in the country for its pairing of worker protections and patient safety.
Na Sun-Ja, KHMU president said, “The new law ensuring higher standards for workers and protections of their rightss. More than 800,000 workers in the health and medical service industry will now be able to provide a better quality of care to their patients. This historic victory is not only for our union members but for all Koreans, who will, at some point in their lives, either be patients or consumers of medical services.”
“All around the world, care workers face the same issues,” said Adrian Durtschi. “From a chronic lack of time to negligent and dangerous understaffing to long hours and poor remuneration, care workers are often so overworked that they cannot provide the high quality of care they want to deliver. This law will ensure that both workers and patients get a better deal in the health sector in Korea. If we invest in our care professionals and infrastructure, it’s beneficial for entire societies and the sector will flourish.”
KHMU expressed gratitude to UNICARE for giving the union the opportunity to participate in theTripartite Meeting on Improving Employment and Working Conditions in Health Services in April 2017 in Geneva. This meeting helped the eventual passing of the bill as it prepared the KHMU for meetings with its own government in which the union showed how the rapidly growing sector can provide quality employment for hundreds of thousands of workers while protecting employees’ rights.
The new law comes into effect October 2019.