Taiwan employers to pay for overtime work assigned over instant messaging apps

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The arbitration determined that employees must be compensated for work assigned on LINE or Whatsapp, outside regular work hours

All work and no play is a common phenomenon among the working population of the present day as advanced communication technology and staying connected at all times, makes it difficult to draw boundaries between work time and personal time— they keep intersecting. E-mails, messages or group discussions on instant messaging apps, after work hours, are fairly prevalent and one cannot avoid them.

Considering this as serious work that should be compensated for, Taiwan’s New Taipei City Labour Affairs Department’s arbitration commission recently ruled that employers must pay overtime compensation to employees for work assigned via instant messaging apps, such as LINE and WhatsApp during non-work hours. This is a first of its kind ruling in Taiwan.

The arbitration case came up when an electronic parts manufacturer employee, who, after being laid off in 2015, requested overtime pay for tasks assigned via LINE, that were completed outside of working hours.

Apparently, the company claimed that it did not ask the employee to go to the office during non-work hours as he only had to send LINE messages to three other employees. While the company said the work only amounted to 30–40 minutes per month, the employee claimed it took longer.

The arbitration commission, however, ruled that the employee worked an additional 358 minutes on weekdays and 1,007 minutes on weekends, after reviewing records of LINE messages and calls, post which—as per the arbitration commission’s ruling— the company needs to pay NT$2,598 (US$83) in overtime compensation.

Although the new rule may come as a delight to some, it may also create further measurement and negotiation issues for most as the tasks employers request employees to do after work hours are urgent or irregular, and are hence difficult to predict and measure.

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