Are there laws to prevent long working hours?


The advice by the dean of the Singapore Judicial College, Mr Foo Chee Hock, to junior lawyers to be aware of burnout due to long working hours and to take stock of their work and purpose and the sustainability of their lifestyle is timely (Beware of burnout, new Senior Counsel tells junior lawyers; Jan 8).

In fact, young lawyers, engineers, accountants, doctors and all other professionals should heed this advice too.

However, this is only one part of the problem as, often, the long hours put in are beyond their control and are required by their bosses and employers.

I can attest to this as my children as well as my relatives' children who are working often have to put in unpaid overtime hours until midnight.

When I asked them about this, I was told that their bosses instructed them to do so as they have to clear urgent matters.

In fact, one of my children, who is on a training contract with a law firm, has to clock in many more hours with no overtime pay.

On top of this, as I understand it, all trainee lawyers have to prepare and sit for examinations.

I wonder how trainee lawyers are supposed to be able to juggle this.

I wonder whether the Law Society of Singapore has established guidelines for trainee lawyers not to be forced to work overly long hours.

I hope that this pattern of long working hours will not lead to fatal incidents like in Japan and South Korea.

Perhaps, the Government should consider introducing laws to curb this growing trend of long working hours.

Lee Kwok Weng