Mon, Jan 10, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Labor rights group slams CLA's new `overwork' criteria

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In response to a recent amendment to the definition of "overwork," a labor rights group today urged the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to customize the definition to Taiwan's labor laws, instead of simply using Japan's.

The council uses the definition to decide whether a death or physical breakdown is due to overwork.

"Although the definition of overwork has been expanded in this recent amendment, what the CLA is doing is simply transferring the entire overwork definition from Japan, and some regulations are not applicable to Taiwan's labor conditions," said Huang Hsiao-ling (黃小陵), general-secretary of the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries (TAVOI).

Last Monday, the CLA eased the Overwork Definition Guidelines (過勞症認定標準). An employee's working conditions have been added into the guidelines, whereas in the past the number of hours worked served as the primary criteria.

Examples of working conditions include frequency of work, job schedule rotation and noise levels in the working environment.

"The new overtime-hours definition was taken directly from Japan's definition, which does not realistically reflect the labor conditions in Taiwan," Huang said.

The Labor Standards Law (勞基法) stipulates maximum regular working hours as eight hours a day, and 84 hours every two weeks.

Huang said the overwork definition should be based on the Labor Standards Law, and that any overtime in excess of the legal limit should be taken into consideration in assessing a potential overwork case.

In addition, TAVOI also urged the incorporation of overwork into the Bureau of Labor Insurance's list of 108 occupational health diseases.

At present, if an individual is suspected to have died of overwork, their records normally say they suffered from a circulatory disease, such as stroke or heart failure.

"Since occupational health diseases are so prevalent now, overwork might as well be added to the list," Huang said.

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