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Death from overwork should arouse attention | Updated: 2013-07-15 20:45

A 23-year-old man in Anqing, Anhui province, died suddenly after working 12 hours in a row. An editorial in People's Daily asks, Who is responsible? (Excerpts below.)

What happened in Anqing is not an isolated incident. Over the past year, several young people have died from overwork. A survey found that the average working time of Chinese is among the longest in the world.

The Labor Law clearly states that a laborer should not work more than eight hours a day or 44 hours a week; the extra hours should not exceed three hours a day or 36 hours a month. However, while companies often choose to simply ignore these rules, government agencies also tend not to punish offenders when anything happens. There is not a precedent for an employer to be punished for the death of employees from overwork.

Neighboring Japan once witnessed frequent deaths due to overwork. In the 1980s, Japan issued a new regulation that requires employers to pay compensation as high as $1 million, which curbed the offenses.

Of course, a stricter regulation is only one way. Many young people have no choice but to work extra hours because of fierce competition. This is the deeper cause of overwork in China; it also sounds the alarm to accelerate income distribution reforms so that people will feel less pressure.

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