24 October 2018
Taiwan is said to have some of the most overworked employees in the world. Photo:, bloomberg
Taiwan is said to have some of the most overworked employees in the world. Photo:, bloomberg

Taiwan worker dies after late-night tasks sent via emails

A 40-year-old Taiwanese woman died from overwork after months of being bombarded with work-related instant messages and emails by her boss at a media relations company, Apple Daily Taiwan reported on Friday.

The case has been recognized as the island’s first communication software-related death from overwork by the Ministry of Labor, the report said. 

The woman, who was already under great stress from her daytime work, had to put up with tasks assigned by her superior through WhatsApp instant messages and emails outside office hours, and sometimes even in the dead of night.

The situation lasted for several months before she died after suffering a stroke that rendered her comatose. Family members said they found that most of her computer files were stored late at night or in the wee hours, showing that she had not been getting enough rest.

According to Taiwan’s labor regulations, the worker is entitled to NT$1.98 million (US$66,000) compensation as her case can be classified as death from occupational injury.

According to a 2012 report by BBC News, the deaths of nearly 50 Taiwanese workers in 2011 were blamed on working more overtime than allowed by law.

Taiwanese employees work about 2,200 hours annually, which is 20 percent more than in Japan and the United States, 30 percent more in Britain and 50 percent more than in Germany, the report said, citing government data.

In 2011, Germany set rules prohibiting bosses from sending work-related emails to staff after office hours. France also bans employers from making calls or sending emails to employees between 6pm and 9am.

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