HR Strange But True

Latest Tech Trend Could Land You in the Unemployment Line

When you think of termination related to cell phone use, it’s most likely related to someone misusing their phone against company policy. However, with the release of the iPhone® 7, one company is firing its employees for just having the phone itself!

BBC Trending is reporting that a firm in the Henan province of China—called the Nanyang Yongkang Medicine Company (NYMC)—is telling its employees not to buy the new phone, and it’s not for privacy reasons, either. NYMC sent out a notice to its employees on September 18, which is important to Chinese culture because it is the same day Japanese troops invaded northeast China in 1931.

The notice read, “September 18th is a historical day. Don’t forget the national humiliation and let’s boycott foreign products … If you break this rule, then just come to the office straight way [sic] to hand in your resignation.” The notice, like most things these days, was quickly picked up by social media and made viral. Some social media users are quick to point out that boycotting the product could be counterproductive because iPhone manufacturing takes place at Foxconn factories in China.

One social media user says, “This could cause the Foxconn company to collapse and thousands of people would be unemployed. That’s not even mentioning the losses it could cause to domestic parts suppliers.” However, when a news company contacted NYMC to see if this was indeed the reason behind the ban, a spokesperson was quick to point out that, “the warning was issued on behalf of the firm’s chairman. [The spokesperson] said it was intended to encourage staff to pay more attention to their family instead of luxury goods.”

A hospital in China is also following suit and has released a similar notice to its employees that reads:

“iPhone 7 has recently come onto the market and the price is a record high among the similar mobiles. In order to promote thrift and avoid waste, the hospital administration office has made a decision: we ban our staff from buying iPhone 7s.”

The notice also warns that employees who break this rule will be disqualified from receiving promotions and will be urged to return their phone to the store. The hospital manager told BBC Trending that, “he had been prompted to act when a member of staff had bought an iPhone 7 even though it cost three times their monthly wage.” The manager goes on to say, “I’m not against foreign brands but I don’t like to see people buying expensive iPhones that they can’t obviously afford. Some people borrow money from banks or family and friends, others even sell their organs to buy iPhones. I don’t want my staff to do such things,” he said.

The manager adds, “Although owning an iPhone won’t affect people’s work performance, I simply want to set up rules that promote our company’s culture: diligence and frugality.” Could China be onto something with this ban?

Regardless of workplace performance issues, banning a device that costs up to $800 could really impact employees’ financial wellness. However, this is a digital age, and everyone seems to be connected in some way or another, so this trend probably won’t pick up across the United States.