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As work weeks in Hong Kong and Japan get longer, cause stress and in some cases death. In fact, an estimated 20% of Japanese workers are at risk of “Karoshi”. Legal cases filed over karoshi or death from overwork in Japan hit 1,456 in 2015 and Hong Kong is the world’s hardest working city, at 50 hours a week.
The Internet, emails and cell phones have made it almost impossible to permanently take a break from the office that adds to stress and overwork. But some workers across the world are fighting back.
This month Labor union IG Metall in Germany negotiated a deal that could see some of its 2.3 million members working a 28-hour workweek, reported CNN. The deal that was reached in conjunction with over 700 companies in south-west Germany could start setting the standard for other industries.
Workers in France already work 35 hours a week or 4 fewer hours every day than those in Hong Kong. And in 2016 the government made it illegal to send work emails on weekends. In Sweden, 6 hour work days are common to allow for better work-life balance and time to spend looking after children. The law also stipulates employees receive 25 days of paid vacation with some companies offering more and parents get 480 days of paid parental leave to split between them.
While some companies experiment with offering workers more flexibility there still remains no minimum working hours legislation in Hong Kong. Coupled with the, “first in, last out” office culture in the city, workers in the territory shouldn’t expect hours to decrease anytime soon.
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