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
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.