Maximum weekly working hours are often regulated by the labour laws of a country.
However, some companies may still require employees to work overtime for various reasons. This could have dire impacts on the health of their workers.
An employee of a Thailand news channel Thai News Network (TNN), Mr Sarawut Srisawat, passed away at his desk on 4 Feb. The suspected cause of his death is overworking.
An internal circular by the company detailing their compensation plans for his family has since been leaked.
According to BBC Thai, a Facebook page called Screen Off first ran the story of Mr Sarawut’s death on 5 Feb.
Although the post has been taken down, BBC Thai reported that it described how working more than five days a week was a norm for Mr Sarawut, a senior officer at TNN. He was alleged to have worked for seven days in a row for some weeks.
His colleagues told BBC Thai that he was a senior staff of the company with 17 years’ experience and solely oversaw the program schedule of two main channels. Hence, finding other employees to stand in for him wasn’t easy.
He was also called back to produce programme charts for the channel even when he was on sick leave.
According to BBC Thai, the internal circular to other TNN employees revealed that Mr Sarawut died of a heart attack.
A cleaner only realised he was dead the next day when they found Mr Sarawut in an unusual position. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was administered after he was found unconscious, but to no avail.
Mr Sarawut was only 44 when he passed. He reportedly had preexisting medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Thai television channel PPTV reported that TNN would be compensating his family 24 months of his current salary, health insurance, accident insurance, social security funds and the fees needed for his funeral and cremation.
According to BBC Thai, Thailand’s labour law specifies that working hours should not exceed eight hours per day and 48 hours per week. The Straits Times (ST) also underlined that overtime work should be capped at 36 hours weekly.
Thai Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin has ordered an investigation into the cause of Mr Sarawut’s death.
The Labour Protection Department is investigating whether Mr Sarawut was given at least one day off work weekly, as stipulated by law, and whether TNN had forced Mr Sarawut to work overtime against his will.
Mr Suchart has also ordered the Labour Protection and Welfare Department and the Social Security Office to ensure that Mr Sarawut’s family will receive all due compensation.
Mr Sarawut’s family will be eligible for a 50,000 baht (S$2,000) funeral subsidy, compensation of 70% of his salary monthly for 10 years, and pension payments from the Social Security Office if the investigation finds that his death was indeed caused by work.
MS News extends our deepest condolences to Mr Sarawut’s loved ones. May he rest in peace.
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Featured image adapted from BBC Thai.
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