Auditor's death triggers work stress concerns in China

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, April 16, 2011
Adjust font size:

The sudden death of a young worker at a well-known auditing company has triggered public concerns over stress caused by work in China.

Pan Jie, a 25-year-old female auditor at the Shanghai branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), died of viral encephalitis on Sunday, ten days after she asked for a sick leave because of high fever, said a written statement PwC provided to Xinhua on Thursday.

Pan Jie, a 25-year-old female auditor at the Shanghai branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Pan Jie, a 25-year-old female auditor at the Shanghai branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The statement said that the company would provide psychological assistance to its employees, without mentioning whether her death was related to excessive overwork.

Pan joined the company in October 2010 and often mentioned her overtime and fever on her twitter-like microblog.

"This is my first time I'm not afraid of Mondays because I didn't have any weekend off," she posted one midnight in January.

"What a beautiful moon...I wanna have a vacation where I can see stars," she wrote at 3 a.m. while working. "Fever, 39 degrees. Again."

At China's largest web portal,, more than 30,000 users posted comments indicating that they believed the tragedy stemmed from karoshi, since staff in the company often worked up to 18 hours per day. Karoshi is a Japanese word that literally means death from overwork. It attracted attention initially in Japan during the country' s rise from the devastation of World War II to economic prominence in post-war decades.

"Her death reminded us that people work to live better and more happily. If our work deviates from that goal, it's not worth it," said a netizen named "happy to listen to the scenery."

"It's no use to feel sorrowful. We still have to sit in front of a monitor after sorrow," said a netizen named "Pig Nannannan." "If she had not been dead, she still would have to go back for excessive work after recovery,"

Nowadays, as China is making great strides in its economic development, deaths from both physical and metal overwork, including suicide, are also increasing.

The most notorious case occurred at Foxconn, where at least 11 workers died by jumping from buildings mainly because of too much overtime and the company's negligence of workers' spiritual needs.

According to Chinese law, overtime should not exceed three hours a day or 36 hours per month. However, "voluntary overtime" is very common.

"They give you a project and set a deadline. It's impossible to finish it without overtime," said a PwC employee named Xiao who works at its Beijing branch and joined the company in 2010.

"If you want to survive, you have to work overtime," said Xiao, adding workers receive overtime payment for 36 hours' overtime, and compensatory leave for the remaining overtime hours.

On Wednesday, the Chinese Medical Doctor Association (CMDA) released survey results revealing that the manufacturing, finance, education, media, law, information technology, transportation, advertising, fast moving consumer goods and real estate industries are China's top 10 industries where workers "overdraw their health."

The survey, which looked at three million physical examination sheets as well as people's working status, lifestyle and psychological status, was jointly conducted across 40 organizations, including the CMDA and the Chinese Hospital Association.

Overtime, lack of exercise, lack of attention to nutrition and ignorance of health conditions are among the main factors that affect people's health, the result said.

Xiao said Pan's death could have been avoided, as sick leave was allowed and easily approved in the company.

"She did not have to bear the fever, and should have turned to doctors long ago," she said.

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comments

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from