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Korea Times

Seoul may ban after-work messages to workers on popular messaging app

City's legislature wants to make after-work messages illegal in an effort to reduce work-related stress

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 3:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 3:46pm

By Lee Kyung-min

It is common these days for company workers to assign duties or share work-related information via chatting apps, mostly KakaoTalk. But the round-the-clock conversation tools often put pressure on employees because such conversations are often held after work.

In an effort to help reduce workers’ stress caused by constant work assignments delivered via mobile devices, 15 members of the Seoul Metropolitan Council recently submitted a revision to a related ordinance to ban after-work messenger services among public workers of the city government, they said Thursday.

Under the revision, Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) employees should be guaranteed the right to rest. It specifically said that their privacy should not be infringed upon by phone calls, text messages, social networking channels or other communication tools after work.

Councilor Kim Kwang-soo of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) said the revision is to guarantee workers’ basic rights protected under the Constitution.

“Of course SMG officials must always be prepared for the needs of citizens, but many of them are working under conditions that infringe on their right to rest,” he said.

Low-level SMG officials welcomed the move.

“Although the workload may vary depending on the department or the leadership style of individual bosses, the move will generally help me and others rest during the weekend because many of us get assignments via KakaoTalk on weekends,” he said.

An office worker who refused to be named said the revision should be adopted by the private sector.

“When KakaoTalk was first introduced, I loved it because I could use it to talk to my friends. But after my boss started using it to keep giving me work, and checking up on me, I have come to hate it,” he said.

Similarly, Rep. Shin Kyung-min of the DPK submitted a revision of the Labor Standards Act in June to ban work assignments given to employees via text message or social media after work.  

Shin said the revision would help workers fully rest in the evening hours as well as during the weekend, which would ultimately increase worker productivity.