WORKED TO THE BONE

Chi­nese em­ploy­ees are used to do­ing over­time — they see it as a nec­es­sary means of se­cur­ing ca­reer pro­gres­sion — but ex­perts say such habits can prove to be fa­tal

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

over­time should be paid be­tween 150 and 300 per­cent ex­tra of their orig­i­nal daily salaries.

Un­for­tu­nately, ex­perts said that many com­pa­nies ig­nore the reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing max­i­mum work hours and ex­tra pay. Some even re­sort to sack­ing their em­ploy­ees who are re­sis­tant to the over­time work cul­ture.

Af­ter sev­eral months of hav­ing to work from 8 am to mid­night as well as hav­ing to drink three cups of cof­fee ev­ery day, Louisa Luo said that her health has taken a se­ri­ous beat­ing.

“I have asthma and there’s a time of the month when I’m con­stantly cough­ing due to al­ler­gies. But ev­ery­body around me is work­ing so hard, as if there is no to­mor­row, so I just have to fol­low. I don’t re­ally see a fu­ture here for me but I don’t have a choice,” said the 36-year-old mother of a kin­der­garten boy.

Deng is no dif­fer­ent. He said that his health has wors­ened and that al­most all his col­leagues are suf­fer­ing from cer­vi­cal prob­lems as a re­sult of their seden­tary life­style where they are con­stantly seated at their desks.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2015/2016 Stay­ing@Work Sur­vey by global risk man­age­ment and ad­vi­sory firm Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son, stress is the lead­ing work­force risk in the world.

In the Asia Pa­cific, how­ever, the big­gest em­ployee health risk was cited as the lack of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

Re­searchers have also found that prob­lems aris­ing from work-re­lated health prob­lems or de­pres­sion re­sult in mas­sive losses for com­pa­nies. For ex­am­ple, the Euro­pean Risk Ob­ser­va­tory has es­ti­mated that work-re­lated de­pres­sion and ab­sen­teeism cost com­pa­nies in Europe €617 bil­lion ($693 bil­lion) and €272 bil­lion re­spec­tively ev­ery year.

“The ris­ing la­bor costs in China and peo­ple’s grow­ing aware­ness of their rights will even­tu­ally make the cost of work­ing over­time too large to af­ford. This could prob­a­bly sig­nal the start of the end of such over­time prac­tices,” said Yu.

Gu also urged do­mes­tic com­pa­nies to be more eth­i­cal in their treat­ment of their em­ploy­ees, say­ing that an over­worked em­ployee who ends up sick or de­pressed would very likely cause more prob­lems than solve them.

In 2014, a Tokyo court or­dered a restau­rant to pay 58 mil­lion yen ($568,797) in com­pen­sa­tion to the fam­ily of an em­ployee who was found to have com­mit­ted sui­cide af­ter work­ing nearly 200 ex­tra hours a month for seven months.

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