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A bill on banning the KakaoTalk prison

Posted June. 24, 2016 07:21,   

Updated June. 24, 2016 08:36


Kwon Young-soo, vice chairman of LG U Plus, created a company manual titled “Things that you should never do” on May 1 to apply it to its sales unit. It bans sending KakaoTalk (a messaging application) to employees after 10 p.m. and ordering employees to do work on holidays. Bosses who break the rule will be dismissed from their position. Samsung SDI also launched a campaign to refrain from using messaging applications after work and on weekends. A boss who criticizes his subordinate for his or her belated response in a group chat room will be disciplined.

Smartphones and messaging applications opened the era of “smart working,” but not without side effects. Many people get stressed as they have to stand by with a smartphone even after work to check their boss’s business instructions on KakaoTalk. Even a new word was coined to describe such situation – a KakokTalk prison. The Korea Labour & Society Institute released a survey result that 86.1 percent of employees work with their smartphone even after work and their overtime is an average of 1.44 hours a day and 11.3 hours a week.

Rep. Shin Kyung-min of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea sponsored a revised bill on the Labor Standards Act (a.k.a. an act on the ban of KakaoTalk after work) to prevent any work instructions through phones or text messages after work. The intention is understandable as it tries to protect employees’ privacy. However, it is pathetic to see the idea of proposing a bill to regulate such a trivial thing. A company that postpones an urgent call from other country just because the employee responsible for the case left work should rather close its business.

The bill on banning business conversation on KakaoTalk after work is an excessive legislation but the KakaoTalk prison should not left unattended. Bosses need to refrain from making unnecessary orders to their subordinates after work, and if necessary, they should rather deliver their key message, instead of asking uncomfortable questions like “Where are you?” If it is an urgent matter, making a phone call would reduce misunderstanding rather than sending a text message. Bosses should respect their subordinates’ privacy and companies should create such culture. When the culture of care for other people spreads, conflicts over work after work can be reduced.