First decision of the court, “The special postman user is the Republic of Korea”

▲ File photo Reporter Jeong Ki-hoon

According to a court ruling, the couriers at the special post office belong to the special post office, but the actual user is the Republic of Korea. This is the first time that it has explicitly judged the user of a postman who is not a public official. The court found that the state had neglected its duty to protect the postman who died from overwork.

Survivors of postmen who died of sudden cardiac death claim national compensation
‘Usability of Korea’ trial issue

According to the legal community on the 7th, the Seoul Central District Court’s civil 64 sole (Judge Yoon Nam-hyun) ruled in favor of some of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the government by the bereaved family of a special postman A on the 28th of last month. This is the conclusion after 4 years and 5 months since the lawsuit started.

Mr. A was appointed to the special post office belonging to the Asan Post Office in 1996 and has been working. A special post office is a post office installed and operated by an individual to promote the convenience of residents in an area where there is no post office. Person A was a postal worker with a non-public official status, belonging to the director of the Byeoljeong Post Office and engaged in the delivery service.

Special postman signed a labor contract with the head of the special post office, but was dispatched to the post office of the Post Office Headquarters to perform the same tasks with ‘postal service officials’ in many cases. Mr. A was also ordered to be dispatched from the special post office to the Asan Post Office Postal Logistics Department in August 2004 according to the plan to expand the pickup and delivery area, and worked under the task instructions of the postal logistics department manager until his death in April 2017.

At that time, Mr. A was found dead at his home by colleagues who thought it was strange that he did not go to work. The cause of death was acute cardiac death. According to the ruling, the deceased went to work around 6 am and left work at 8 pm, often working more than 10 hours, and also worked on Saturdays, which is a holiday. During the 12 weeks before his death, he worked an average of 62 hours and 48 minutes per week. In addition, in early 2017, before his death, the work place changed and the workload increased.

The bereaved family filed a lawsuit in September 2018 against the government and the post office director, saying that the state was responsible for Mr. A’s death. The issue at the trial was whether ‘Korea’s usability’. The bereaved family claimed that Mr. A was a courier at a special post office, but had a substantive employment contract with the government, such as receiving work instructions from the Post Office while working at the Asan Post Office. In addition, if the state is not the user, a preliminary claim was made that the director of the post office and the government are responsible as a joint user.

Court “Government violated duty of protection”
“The ‘real’ user of the postman is the government”

The court ruled in favor of the bereaved family, saying, “Korea is fully recognized as an actual employer of the deceased.” Judge Yoon said, “At the Asan Post Office, the postal serviceman and the special post office postman were mixed in the same place and performed the same work without distinction. The reason was that the head of the regional postal office or the general post office had the right to appoint a special postman, and the special post office only served as a mail receptionist but was managed by the general post office.

Assuming that the Republic of Korea is the employer, Judge Yoon ordered the government to compensate for the damage suffered by Mr. A and his family. However, the responsibility of the state was limited to 70% by acknowledging Mr. A’s negligence. Judge Yoon said, “Korea, as a user of Mr. A, should take necessary measures, such as improving the human and material environment so as not to harm his life, body, or health, but he neglected to do so. “Furthermore, it seems that the Republic of Korea knew or could have known that a bodily injury could occur to Mr. A.”

In particular, the Asan Post Office recognized the responsibility for compensation by citing statistics that the average annual working hours per person of the Asan Postman was 3,02 hours, which corresponds to the top 5% of all post offices nationwide, and the longest working hours among post offices affiliated with the Chungcheong Regional Post Office. .

Lawyer Jeong Byung-min (Public Transport Union Law Court), who represented the bereaved family, said, “In Korea, as the employer of Mr. A, Mr. A, who is a worker, needs to maintain the human and material environment so as not to harm his life or body in the process of providing labor. “It is significant that the government was recognized as the ‘real’ user of the special postman,” he said.

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