Malaysian employers sacking staff for playing Pokemon Go at work

Author: PM editorial | Date: 28 Sep 2016

A quarter of managers surveyed have caught their employees playing the game during working hours

For some Pokemon fans hoping to catch ‘em all in Malaysia, losing their job has been an unwanted bonus level in the game.
In a recent survey by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), it was revealed that six organisations among the 150 questioned had dismissed a member of staff for playing Pokemon at work, while a quarter of managers had caught their employees playing the game during work hours.
The augmented-reality game – in which players explore the real world to catch fictional monsters – has been a huge worldwide success. For some employers, though, it has been too successful and they have been forced to take a stand against the game being played during working hours.
Some staff are even taking longer lunch breaks to keep on playing the game, said the MEF’s executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan.
Before resorting to dismissal, most employers have taken other action first, including advising employees against playing the game during working hours, issuing warning letters and suspending employees from work without pay.
In July, Singapore reported what was believed to be the world’s first Pokemon Go-related sacking. An Australian expat vented his anger in an online forum because he couldn’t play the game in Singapore at the time: his comments were deemed inappropriate by his employer, who dismissed him. Another man from New Zealand man quit work so he could travel around the country and hunt Pokemon full-time.
However, Pokemon Go is not all bad for business. Victoria Coffee Brewers in Selangor have tried turning its cafes into Poke Stops and Poke Gyms (both crucial to progress in the game) to attract players. In Japan, fast-food chain McDonald’s struck a deal with Niantic, the game designer behind Pokemon, to make every one of its 3,000 restaurants in the country Poke Stops and bring in real customers hoping to catch a Pikachu or Dragonite.
Employers may take comfort in the fact that Victoria Coffee Brewers reported a lull in interest in Pokemon-related promotions just a month after the game’s release date, as initial excitement died down.