Garbageman tossed to the curb with text message

South Korean man fired via text message while out for dinner
|Canadian Employment Law Today

The prevalence of mobile phones has encompassed many aspects of society in South Korea, including the issuing of pink slips, one garbage collector found out.

A sanitation worker in Anyang, South Korea, received a text message from his employer during dinner on the evening of April 3. The message informed him he was fired.

The worker was shocked at the use of text messaging to tell him of his termination, considering he had spent four years with the company. Though the company had previously told its workers layoffs were likely, Kim never thought he would be told this way.

“For me, work is a matter of survival,” Kim told

The Hankyoreh

, a Korean newspaper. “I was really embarrassed and felt victimized.”

There is currently no regulation in South Korea on how pink slips can be issued. The use of text messages to tell workers they have been laid off has become a common practice in the country, particularly in the information technology sector.

However, new legislation has been passed by the South Korean government which will make this practice illegal. The labour law amendments, which come into effect in July 2007, will require all notifications of layoffs to be given in writing. A text message will not be legally binding.

An official with the ministry of labour said formal written notices would give employees the opportunity to review any legal issues and help them understand why they’ve been let go. It would also help protect against unjust termination by establishing a formal paper trail.

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