The New Taipei City Labor Affairs Department yesterday said its arbitration commission has ruled that employers must pay employees overtime if they assign work through instant messaging applications during non-work hours.
The case involved an electronics parts manufacturer employee who was laid off in 2015.
After being dismissed, the employee requested overtime pay — including for work done on his own time — after being assigned tasks by his superior over the instant messaging app Line.
According to the arbitration award, the company argued that the employee was not asked to go to the office on weekends and only had to send Line messages to three other employees, working no more than an extra 30 to 40 minutes per month.
The employee argued that the work took longer than the company claimed.
After reviewing communication records between the two sides consisting of Line messages and telephone calls, the commission ruled that the employee had worked an extra 358 minutes during weekdays and 1,007 minutes during weekends and required the company to pay an additional NT$2,598 in overtime pay.
It is the first time such an arbitration ruling has been made in Taiwan.
New Taipei City Department of Labor Affairs Director Hsieh Cheng-ta (謝政達) said the commission’s decision has the same effect as a court ruling.
In response to the ruling, General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China head Lai Cheng-yi (賴正鎰) accused the government of being “too nosy.”
The tasks employers ask employees to do after work hours are urgent or irregular and as such are hard to predict, Lai said, adding that the government should be lenient in such instances.