Chinese-Canadian model and actor Godfrey Gao’s death highlights the issue of overworking. CFP
Acting careers may seem glamorous, but a recent tragedy reveals a dark side of the job.
On Nov 27, Chinese-Canadian model and actor Godfrey Gao, 35, died from cardiac arrest while filming a reality TV show.
According to the Global Times, Gao appeared to have a cold the day of his death, yet had worked on set for 17 hours when he collapsed while running.
Following the tragedy, the show has received criticism for its demanding schedule. Amid the outcry, Zhejiang TV has suspended the show’s production.
However, overtime and excessive workloads are not just for actors. They are present in a range of professions. According to China Daily, the so-called “996” work schedule, in which employees work from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week, spread from IT to other industries. Some companies may even demand more overtime. In a 2018 study by Wuhan University, more than 80 percent of Chinese employees said they were overworked and under mental and physical stress. This can cause depression, weight gain and sleep deprivation, which lower work productivity.
Cui Zhendong, a lawyer with the Yiqian Law Firm, told China Daily that China’s Labor Law clearly states that one should only work eight hours a day and no more than 44 hours a week.
Though some bosses call “996” as the sign of a hard worker, “it does not equate to forcing employees to work overtime,” said People’s Daily. “One should not attach the moral labels of ‘slackers’ or ‘not willing to strive’ to employees who are against ‘996’.”
The norm of long working hours in Asia is changing, said CGTN. A new Japanese law restricts overtime to 45 hours a month and South Korea cut its maximum allowable working hours from 68 to 52 hours per week last year.
中国国际电视台认为，亚洲国家长时间工作的常态正在发生改变。一项新的日本法律限定每月加班最多 45 小时，韩国去年将每周最长工时从68小时缩短至52小时。
To lessen pressure on employees, Microsoft Japan trialed a four-day workweek in the summer. The Guardian reported that productivity increased by 40 percent, despite fewer hours. “Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot,” said Microsoft Japan CEO Takuya Hirano. “I want employees to think about ... how they can achieve the same results with 20 percent less working time.”