Sat, Dec 25, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Overwork claims will rise: CLA

GUILTY TILL PROVEN INNOCENT:The council said it plans to side with workers unless employers are able to prove that the employee didn’t die from overwork

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday estimated that after the regulations for recognizing death from overwork are loosened, a threefold increase in the number of cases granted labor insurance compensation could be expected.

The council is in the process of making it easier for families to obtain compensation in cases where a worker dies from job-related factors, such as excessively long working hours, extreme job-related stress and a long-term -history of excessive overtime.

The council plans to shift the burden of proof onto employers, so that if an employer is unable to provide evidence that a worker has not been literally worked to death, the council would side with the employee by default.

At present, if an employee or their family are unable to produce evidence to prove the employee had put in long work hours resulting in over-exhaustion prior to a work-related injury or death, it is nearly impossible to successfully claim compensation, council officials said.

As a result, there were only 26 approved cases of death from overwork last year, and only 33 cases passed the test this year, the council said. In terms of deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease, only 1.7 percent of such deaths were attributed to overwork last year and only 2.1 percent qualified as work-related deaths this year, it said.

The council said that it estimated the changes to the regulations would result in more than 300 applications being filed each year to obtain compensation for death from overwork, of which about one-third, or more than 100, would qualify.

The council yesterday also revealed that deaths suspected of being related to overwork, such as a Nanya Technology Corp engineer’s death, would be re-evaluated and compensation awarded if declared an occupational death.

Early this year, the sudden death of the healthy 29-year-old Nanya engineer triggered widespread criticism that local firms, especially electronics manufacturers, worked their employees too hard, with the victims’ families rarely receiving labor insurance compensation because of the difficulties for courts to conclude with any certainty that the death was a result of long working hours.

The man, surnamed Hsu (徐), began working at Nanya in 2006 as an engineer and frequently worked overtime — as much as 139 hours a month. Before his death, Hsu was putting in about 80 hours of overtime each month for half a year. His parents found him dead in front of his computer at home on Jan. 11.

Despite signs that Hsu died from being overworked because of his high-stress work environment — leading to cardiac arrest in a young and healthy adult — the court said the death was unrelated to his occupation.

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