Long working hours and presenteeism in Asia

A cultural psychological analysis

Authored by: Luo Lu , Chun-Yi Chou

The Routledge Companion to Wellbeing at Work

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138955943
eBook ISBN: 9781315665979
Adobe ISBN:


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The concern about working hours in Western society can be traced back to the 18th century, at the wake of the Industrial Revolution (Cross, 1990). Following innovations in automation, workers needed to keep up with the timing of machine operation, hence the scheduling of working hours became extremely important. However, workers’ wages were low and they needed to work long hours in order to maintain a subsistence existence (Cross, 1990). With the commencement of the trade union movement, working hours became an important issue in employee-employer relations, while academics began to put forward evidence and arguments for the health hazards of excessively long working hours. Consequently, the International Labour Organization (ILO) announced the Hours of Work Convention in 1919, which was the first specification of working hours, followed by the Weekly Rest Convention in 1921; the UN General Assembly passed the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in 1966.

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