37 percent of Japanese firms are guilty of illegal overtime – Survey

Japan is known for being hardworking, and workers should be available to work by the company’s start time. Japanese companies are known for being less punctual when it comes time to allow workers to go home at their official quit time…

It doesn’t matter if you wish to work overtime or not for many jobs in Japan, but a concern with how much overtime you will need to work. However, there has been growing concern about the adverse effects of long working hours on mental and physical health in recent years. This led to new laws and initiatives to reduce work hours.

It’s not easy to change decades of business culture. During the fiscal year in 2020, the Japanese government ran roughly from April 2020 to March 2021; the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare conducted 24,042 on-site workplace inspections to find improper overtime work. They found it at 8,904, which is 37%.

These violations included employees who worked overtime without a labor agreement or overtime that exceeded the limits of the arrangement. Out of the 8,904 locations, the Ministry confirmed violations at 2982 locations (i.e,12.4 %) of the 8,904 sites. They also confirmed that workers worked more than 150 hours overtime per month at 419 locations (1.7% of the total).

Even though regular overtime work has been a part and parcel of Japanese life for decades, these are shocking numbers and online reactions to the ministry report include:

“People are getting worked to death.”
“As workers do more and more overtime their productivity starts to drop, but even now there are a lot of companies that just try to power through things.”
“A lot of people are working from home these days, and I think they end up spending the time they would have spent commuting doing more work instead.”
“Is Japan going to be OK?”

Although the numbers show a grim picture, there may be a faint glimmer of silver lining. First, inspections by the ministry were conducted at workplaces where employees had reported excessive overtime or other suspicions. This suggests that the 37 percent violation rate in the inspected workplaces exceeds the number for all Japanese companies.

It also concerns that the ministry found a 37% violation rate among the workplaces inspected. However, this is the lowest percentage it has seen since the beginning of public announcements about the annual investigation’s findings following the 2016 fiscal year.
At least, the numbers are moving in the right direction, even though it seems like getting Japanese companies that don’t make their employees work so long hours will be a difficult task.

Sources: NHK News Web via Otakomu, Nihon Keizai Shimbun


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