Using private chat messaging at work? Face the consequences

An organisation in China has issued a decree to employees: use WeChat for personal chats at work, and you will be fined or even fired.
By: | November 7, 2023

Private chat messaging platforms in the workplace can lead to termination.

An organisation in China’s Heilongjiang province has implemented a ban on employees using the private chat messaging app WeChat during work hours. The organisation’s notice states that WeChat should exclusively serve work-related purposes during working hours. Urgent personal communications should be handled through phone calls and daily random inspections would be conducted to ensure compliance with this rule, reported South China Morning Post.

Employees caught using WeChat for personal use during work hours would be fined RMB100 (US$14) each time, with a one-off fine of RMB500 (US$70) if the employees were found with three or more private chats in a month. Five or more chats would result in an individual being fired without compensation.

The local government in Heilongjiang province recently issued a public notice in response to the organisation’s laws, stating that it had ordered it to correct its rules, and to issue new “humane measures within the law”.

China’s Civil Code stipulates that no organisation or individual may infringe upon people’s right to privacy by intruding on their private matters.

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The organisation’s recent move has drawn flak from the public, with one comment that the government’s warning was not enough “to prevent similar cases from happening again in the future” and another calling for organisations who message employees outside of work hours to be fined as well. A lawyer with Chongqing Jieheng law firm, Li Li, told Chinese media outlet Xinmin Evening News organisations were prohibited from fining staff. Organisations were only allowed to deduct a salary or demand compensation if an employee’s actions or behaviour resulted in loss to the organisation, for instance by being late for, or absent from work.