What you need to know
In the latest session of the Legislative Yuan, labor rights of being free from employers’ calls after working hours were promoted; however, the Minister of Labor still says they have little control over the operation of the companies, including protecting labor rights after hours.
Translated and compiled by Yuan-Ling Liang
As the use of social media applications has increased rapidly, some employers distribute tasks or even contact their employees after work. Legislator Hung Tzu-yung has called for the ban of after hour-messages during her interrogation towards Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen.
On March 24, the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee interrogated the Executive Yuan regarding rights of electrical communication workers. Hung Tzu-yung, legislator of the New Power Party, brought up several examples showing employers neglecting labors’ basic rights. She took Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je for example, saying that he is known for sending messages through line after work and exploiting employees at the Taipei City government.
Hung said people usually do not turn off their Line app after working hours or even before going to bed. They remain accessible 24 hours a day, allowing their employers to contact them and assign them work at home. Some people do not dare refuse to answer their bosses. The legislator called for the ban on after-hour messaging and adapting Germany’s policy to make after-hour emails illegal.
Chen responded to Hung’s interrogation by saying that all the tasks assigned after work are considered extra shifts and should include extra pay. Whether it is a message on computers or social media text, employees can use these records as proof and ask for overtime pay. However, Chen also stated that the Ministry of Labor does not have too much privilege in intervening working areas, so the situation may still be beyond control in the short term.
Chen says the Ministry of Labor issued a list of principles regarding labors’ working hours outside the office last May. They will make amendments to it after executing the principles for a certain period of time and opinions of the legislators will also be taken into consideration. In the future, special regulations will be added to the Labor Standards Act and the law will be enforced more specifically.
Germany’s ban on after-hour emails
In 2014, Germany’s labor ministry took action and banned calling or emailing, other than for emergencies, after work. Associated Press reports, after working hours, employers have no power to require their employees to keep their phones on and reply messages immediately. If the employees fail to do so, the bosses cannot punish them in any way. This can not only prevent self-exploitation, but also balance the relationship between employers and employees, enhancing labor rights and the health of workers.
Edited by Olivia Yang
“Updated: The French Move To Protect Workers From After-Hours Email" (Fast Company)
“Germany bans calls from bosses after hours" (LinkedIn)
“Could work emails be banned after 6pm?" (BBC)