China News Network, September 9 (Reporter Song Yusheng) Recently, the news of the death of a NetEase employee has aroused public attention.

It is reported that a NetEase employee was threatened by the company's HR due to a work error (there is a bug in the code), after which the employee committed suicide. Pictures circulated online showed that the employee suffered from depression. The reporter learned that on September 9, NetEase Fuxi issued an internal letter saying that the special team had not found motives and evidence related to the "HR threat"; If there is any evidence in the follow-up investigation to prove the existence of a threatening situation, the company will take the relevant personnel seriously.

After this matter fermented, many netizens had this question: "Should the company be responsible for the mental health of employees?" "How can companies be held accountable for the mental health of their employees?"

Screenshot of NetEase's internal letter

"Threatened by HR", what to do?

Judging from the death of NetEase employees alone, if the final investigation confirms that there is indeed an "HR threat", what responsibility should the company and the HR involved bear?

Yue Tushan, a senior partner at Beijing Yuecheng Law Firm, told reporters that if there is an "HR threat", it is necessary to judge the legitimacy of the cause, the legality of the method, and the reasonableness of the severity according to the details of the specific "threatening behavior", and then comprehensively judge whether the "threatening behavior" is a civil law infringement, and whether there is a legal causal relationship between the act and the consequences of employee suicide. If infringement is constituted, NetEase shall bear the tort liability and compensate the family of the suicidal employee because the behavior of the HR involved is an act of duty. As for the HR involved, if NetEase determines that its "threatening behavior" violates the company's rules and management system, it can handle it according to the internal system until the termination of the labor contract.

In addition, Yan Bing, a senior partner at Beijing Times Jiuhe Law Firm, pointed out that for suicide incidents, from a legal point of view alone, the parties themselves should bear part of the responsibility, and as a person with full capacity for civil conduct, they should be responsible for their own lives. If this incident ultimately proves that HR is indeed threatening and the threat has a certain causal relationship with the extreme behavior chosen by the parties, HR will bear the corresponding tort liability, and if HR's behavior is also a performance of duties, the company should also be liable.

An Xiang, director of Beijing Dexiang Law Firm, believes that if the staff of any unit causes damage to others in the process of performing their duties, the company must give priority to bear civil liability, and then recover from the employee who is at fault.

If you encounter "workplace bullying", can you resort to the law?

In Yan Bing's view, according to the available information, the "HR threat" in this matter is different from coercion in the criminal field and should fall under the category of workplace bullying.

So, when employees encounter "workplace bullying", can they resort to the law?

Yue Tushan pointed out that at present, workplace bullying is not clearly defined in law, and generally refers to the behavior of employers or employees who use their authority and seniority advantages to exceed the scope of work and cause mental and physical pain to other employees by means of coercion, threat, debasement, denial, exclusion, etc.

He said that whether workplace bullying can be brought to justice needs to be judged according to the specific behavior and the consequences it produces. For example, if there is violence, coercion or illegal restriction of personal freedom, insult, slander, beating, sexual harassment, forced overtime, forced alcohol persuasion, etc., the employee may, in accordance with the Criminal Law, Public Security Administration Punishment Law, Labor Law, Labor Contract Law, Civil Code and other laws and regulations, request that the employer or relevant employees be investigated for criminal liability or public security punishment, or claim compensation for civil tort damages, or claim compensation for civil tort damages, in accordance with the Criminal Law, Public Security Administration Punishment Law, Labor Law, Labor Contract Law, Civil Code and other laws and regulations.

Mental illness, can it be counted as a work injury?

It is worth noting that in this incident, NetEase internal letter said that the employee had revealed that he may have depression and suffered from insomnia in recent weeks. So, can an employee's personal injury due to mental illness be considered a "work-related injury"?

Yan Bing bluntly said that at present, mental illness cannot be included in the scope of occupational diseases, and whether it can constitute a work-related injury is controversial in judicial circles. "And even if it can constitute a work-related injury in theory, there are obstacles in practice, and it is difficult to prove that mental illness and the resulting personal injury or death are caused by work in the absence of clear rules."

NetEase's internal letter said that after NetEase learned that employees had an accident at their residence, they had started to apply for special assistance funds, special commercial insurance claims and other care payments. At the same time, the company promises to support the education expenses of employees' children until they graduate from college at the age of 22.

Is this appropriate and reasonable?

In response to NetEase's promised student aid plan, An Xiang pointed out that if the employee's "threat by HR" is true, this promise should be fulfilled without being exempted from legal responsibility.

He believes that any employer has an obligation to create a safe working environment for employees, and to do its best to avoid physical and mental harm that employees may not be able to bear due to work, otherwise the company will not escape the blame regardless of law and morality.

Yan Bing stressed that although the help fund and humanistic relationship given by NetEase may be higher than legal responsibility in form, life is priceless and cannot be evaluated by whether it is reasonable.

"The most reasonable system should be to establish a labor security system for mental health in the enterprise, give more humanistic care to employees from the level of professional philosophy, and avoid the recurrence of tragedies." He said. (End)