Casualty caused by overtime work at home on WeChat ruled as job-related
A Chinese court ruled recently that a man who died at home after working overtime on WeChat was a job-related casualty, Guangzhou Daily reported on Sunday.
This was the final ruling of the Railway Transportation Intermediate Court of Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, after the deceased's wife appealed the first ruling.
China's regulation on insurance for work-related injury stipulates that death caused by sudden disease during working hours and at working posts is deemed to be work-related injury, and thus victims are entitled to reimbursement of the insurance in question.
In practice, however, it's not always easy to establish the causal relation of working overtime and health casualty, and people often have to go to court to stake their claims.
In this case, the man surnamed Shi, who worked for a trading company in Guangzhou, died at 7:40pm at home of sudden disease on a workday in 2020.
Since Shi's work involved communications with a factory which operated throughout the day, he often had to work online from home after leaving his office. That day, his last message to a colleague on the instant messaging service WeChat was sent at 7:22pm, according to the court.
Shi's wife, surnamed Tian, filed an application for insurance reimbursement with the local social insurance authorities for Shi's death, which was turned down.
She then filed a case with the Railway Transportation Court of Guangzhou, but was not supported in the first ruling given by the court which was of the opinion that at the time of his death, Shi was neither functioning within working hours, nor at his post.
However, the Railway Transportation Intermediate Court of Guangzhou, which heard Tian's appeal, ruled that due to the nature of his work, Shi had been working overtime from home after work for years, and on the fatal day, his overtime work should be considered to be causal to his death since "after a sudden disease breaks out, death could ensue some time later," referring to the gap of time between Shi's last message in the chat group on work and his death.
Thus, the court annulled the previous decision of the social insurance authorities of not supporting the insurance claims on Shi's death and demanded a correction of the decision within 60 days.
The judge who handed the final ruling advised working people and their family members to keep a record of their overtime work emails, phone calls, Internet chat messages and SMS messages, in case disputes arise, the newspaper reported.