Can an employee listen to music while working?

We listen to music because we want to release stress or feel happy. Some even say that they are working productively when listening to music while other say that they cannot concentrate on working at all. In some workplaces, music is not allowed at all while in some others such as hotels, restaurants or any hospitality areas, music is played for customers and employees.

Whether or not employees can listen to music during working hours depends on types of the businesses, employer’s decisions and to the extent whether or not listening to music can affect performance of the employees. Since employers are the owners of enterprises or companies, it is generally accepted that employers have the right to allow or prohibit employees from listening to music while working. Employees can check the collective agreements, internal regulations of the company (read Internal Regulations of Enterprises, Establishments, or Companies in Cambodia) and employment contracts (read Employment Contract in Cambodia) to know if they are allowed to listen to music during working hours. In practice, most of the collective agreements, internal regulations of the companies and employment contracts are silent whether or not employees are allowed to listen to music during working hours.

In case where the collective agreements, internal regulations and employment contracts are silent, we can also check the Labor Law. Regarding this topic, Article 69 of the Labor Law of Cambodia is relevant since it requires employee to perform work with care and attention.

Article 69 of the Labor Law reads:

Within the framework of his contract, the worker shall perform all of his professional activities for the enterprise. Primarily, he must do the work for which he is hired, and perform it by himself with due care and attention.

The Labor Law does not specifically say that employees cannot listen to music while discharging their duties or performing works. It requires employees to perform work with attention and care. Accordingly, in general, it is more likely that employees’ listening to their private music or the music which is not played by the enterprise or performing any other non-work-related activities during working hours might be treated as carelessness in work performance.

Is listening to music during working hours a serious misconduct?

Yes, it can be if collective agreements, internal regulations or employment contracts clearly prohibit employees from listening to music while performing work and determine such action as serious misconduct. (Read more on Cambodia: Serious misconduct of worker) If there is no such specification, generally speaking, listening to music during a working hours might be considered as a misconduct, but not a serious misconduct. However, if an employee repeatedly listens to music after having received warning from employer at least 2 times already, he or she may be deemed to make serious misconducts.

In conclusion, whether or not employees can listen to music during working hours depends on the employers or enterprises. Employees can check employment contracts, internal regulations of enterprise and collective agreements to see what employees can or cannot do during the working hours.

This text is not legal advice or opinion.

Categories Employment and Labor Laws

4 thoughts on “Can an employee listen to music while working?

  1. Should it also be proved that music reduces productivity? What if research proves otherwise?

    1. Thank you, Bong, for further comments! Listening to music during working hours is generally considered as an action showing less attention and care on work performance.

      1. Thanks, Kanharith. If I were to decide the case, I’d also collect more information such as the type of music they listen to, general data of effect of music on productivity, and how productivity has been affected as a result of employees listening to music.

        Maybe I’m biased here. I’d listen to brain.fm all the time when I need to get and stayed focused! But maybe this could broaden the perspective about how music affects productivity.

  2. I see your point, Bong! Thank you for your fruitful comments. This topic is debatable. 🙂

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