Worked to death: Taiwan to probe high-tech sector

Taiwan will launch an investigation into how many hours people in the technology sector work after a 29-year-old engineer allegedly worked himself to death, an official said Tuesday.

The Council of Labour Affairs will probe technology companies across the island from next month, the labour official said without elaborating.

The move comes amid a high-profile dispute that was sparked when the young engineer was reported to have collapsed and died as he tried to work his way through a mountain of paperwork at his desk in January.

Authorities rejected a compensation claim brought by his family, who said he had worked up to 19 hours a day during the six months leading up to his death, in some months clocking 80 overtime hours.

Labour authorities had determined that his cause of death was down to heart disease and unrelated to work.

The family is appealing the decision and would be entitled to compensation equivalent to 45 months’ salary if it is ruled that he did die from overwork.

According to Taiwan’s labour law, an employee can work no more than four hours overtime a day — or 46 hours a month — with employers facing a fine of up to 60,000 Taiwan dollars (1,900 US) for violating the rule.

Overwork is believed to be prevalent in the high-tech industry, which is the main driving force for the island’s economy, observers said.