Fri, Jan 07, 2005 - Page 4 News List

`Death from overwork' criteria changed

CNA , TAIPEI

The criteria for deciding when a death or a physical breakdown has come about as a result of overwork has been lowered now that the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) has revised pertinent regulations.

After taking complaints from private organizations and suggestions from specialist groups into account, the CLA amended the existing regulations regarding occupational diseases and deaths.

An official with the CLA's Department of Labor Safety and Health said that the standard for reaching a verdict of death by overwork, known in Japan as "karoshi," and serious medical conditions, such as a stroke, will not be based solely on work hours now and that other occupational factors will also be included when such a case is judged.

Other occupational factors include irregular work times and work patterns; abnormally long working hours; frequently on business trips; work based on shifts; nighttime jobs and highly intensive work over long periods of time, the official said.

The CLA considers a death to have been caused by overwork when the victim had worked more than 100 hours on extra work during the month prior to his death or if he or she died on the job.

Several private groups protested to the CLA in April last year against the government's harsh standards for judging when death is the result of overwork.

A spokesman for the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries said that it is unacceptably harsh that the CLA regulates that a verdict of death by overwork can only be applied when an employee has worked for 24 hours continuously before dying or has worked for over 16 hours every day one week before dying.

A spokesman for the Confederation of Taipei Trade Unions also pointed out that the CLA criteria was too narrow, as they relate largely to diseases as the cause of death, but barely mention any reasons concerning working conditions and other social and psychological factors that could be involved

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