Ogilvy China employee, 24, dies from 'overwork'

Advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather has confirmed that one of its China employees, Li Yuan, has passed away suddenly at the age of 24.

Li was working at O&M China's Beijing office on Tuesday when he suffered a heart attack.

According to local news reports, the young employee had been working overtime every day for a month. News reports say he did not leave work before 11pm every night.

Colleagues who saw Li collapse to the ground had called for an ambulance, which took him to a hospital. He could not be revived.

At the time of Li's death, a doctor diagnosed Li to have suffered 'death by sudden cardiac arrest'.

Since news of Li's passing, Chinese netizens have flocked to his Weibo page to comment on the latest picture posted on his Weibo page.

The picture, believed to have been posted by someone who calls himself Li's 'ge ge' (elder brother), shows Li posing with a salute.

It was captioned: "Goodbye to the people I love, goodbye to the world".

It has since drawn more than 22,000 comments and has been shared thousands of times.

A Taiwanese news website had previously reported that close to 600,000 workers in China die from 'work exhaustion' each year.

The statistic was derived from a study done by the China Youth Daily, which is a publication produced by the Communist Youth League.

According to a study in a party-run tabloid, most white-collar workers surveyed said they felt tired under pressure but were more anxious if they felt like they had no pressure at all.

In Japan, death caused by overwork or 'karoshi' is recognised legally as a cause of death.

The main causes of karoshi in Japan are heart attack and stroke caused by stress.

The Japanese government provides an avenue for families of people who die from work exhaustion to apply for compensation.

Some companies have also been made to compensate the families of employees who have died from overwork.

The recognition of karoshi since the 1980s has brought about many changes to Japan's corporate culture, with many companies now making more effort to ensure work-life balance of its employees.

Despite the improvements in welfare, it remains difficult to prove that employees are working too much as unpaid overtime work is still not recorded or reported in many firms.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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