South Korea could introduce a law to prevent employers from bothering their staff outside office hours after growing concerns over its people struggling to strike a balance between their work and personal life. The proposed legislation calls for banning work-related communication from managers via phone calls, emails, text messages, or social media after office hours.
A bill, backed by 12 lawmakers from the country's main opposition Minjoo party, has already been submitted to parliament.
According to AFP, the hyper-wired country has often received complaints from its citizens that too many workers are expected to reply to their employers' calls or texts even when they are on holidays. The problem is so severe in South Korea because mobile phone penetration currently stands at more than 80% of the population - one of the world's highest.
South Korea's proposal comes after similar legislation was submitted in France and Germany. The South Korean MPs said: "The country's notorious workaholic corporate culture and a system ripe for abuse" demand that the bill be sanctioned to overcome the work-life imbalance.
They added: "As more firms use social media or mobile messengers to send work orders, regardless of time, the stress inflicted on workers has reached a serious level."
In 2014, South Koreans were reported to have clocked an average of 2,124 working hours, which is far higher than the average of 1,770 hours clocked in other OECD nations. Besides, a report by the Korea Labour and Society Institute said employees are forced to work an additional 11 hours on an average every week using electronic devices.
The report said: "We have reached a point where working on weekends or after-hours – without pay – is increasingly becoming a norm. The use of smart devices for work blurs the boundaries between work and family life, which leads to a negative impact on work-family and work-life balance."
LG Uplus, which is the country's third largest wireless operator, has issued warnings to its managers of demotion or even dismissal if they try to connect with their staff for work-related issues after 8.00pm. "We wanted to help our staff enjoy their personal life in the evening, which will eventually foster their creativity," the company spokesman told AFP.