In a move that highlights the plight of a work force where fatigue is the norm, an overworked 29-year-old production line worker was recently indicted by prosecutors for drafting a false death certificate for his mother as an excuse to take time off.
The worker, surnamed Chang (張), allegedly submitted the document to request a five-day absence after an extended period of regularly working overtime.
Council of Labor Affairs statistics show that Taiwan ranked third in total working hours last year, behind Singapore and Hong Kong, in a comparison of 10 countries and territories.
The same day charges were brought against Chang, 1111 Job Bank said that 40.29 percent of office workers in a survey logged between 201 and 250 hours per month on the job. The average for all white-collar respondents was 221 hours each month.
The numbers clearly exceed labor regulations, which limit regular work time to 84 hours for each period of two weeks. Heavy workloads mean that many employees are saddled with extra hours after regular shifts and even on weekends in order to accomplish tasks on time.
The lowest paid employees work long hours, the survey shows, but surprisingly, their bosses work longer.
Workers earning NT$20,000 or less put in 224 hours each month, while managers earning NT$70,000 or above work 234, the data show.
Overtime affects not only employees in the manufacturing industry, like Chang, but workers across many of the nation’s most important sectors.
The two industries with the longest-working hours are construction and real estate, where employees spend 278 hours at work each month, the survey shows.
Service and manufacturing sectors follow at 235 hours and 232 hours a month respectively.
Moreover, the vast majority of respondents, 77 percent, said they regularly stay at work late or come in on holidays, but do not receive overtime pay or extra time off — a type of systemized overtime that has become known across the country as “the responsibility system.”
The survey was conducted from Oct. 4 to Friday last week and collected 1,120 valid responses with a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of 2.92 percentage points.