Japanese ad firm probed 10 times before employee’s suicide

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Tokyo, Dec 30 (IANS) Japanese advertising giant Dentsu was investigated 10 times, before one of its employees committed suicide in 2015 due to excessive working hours, over suspicions of forcing its employees to work illegal hours.

Japanese authorities carried out inspections at the company’s headquarters 10 times in the last decade before employee Matsuri Takahashi committed suicide in December 2015, reported Kyodo news agency on Friday after speaking to sources close to the case.

During the inspections carried out at the firm’s offices in Tokyo, Kansai, Kyoto and Chubu, Dentsu was issued five notices between September 2005 and December 2015 for making its employees work excessive hours, said the sources.

The authorities had further warned the firm and urged them to rectify the situation.

The information came to light two days after the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare decided to prosecute the firm for not complying with labour norms, leading to Dentsu President Tadashi Ishii’s resignation. He will leave office in January.

Takahashi, 24, had allegedly worked 105 extra hours the month before her death, although the company records put her overtime as being within the permissible limit.

Her family alleged the company had forced her to indicate lesser hours than those she had actually worked, Efe news reported.

Japanese labour laws establish that working hours cannot exceed more than 40 a week although it allows the workers to do overtime, provided there is an agreement between them and the employer.

The law also states that no worker can work more than 80 hours overtime in a month (reducing it from the earlier 100-hour limit) besides considering imposing control measures and penalising companies which exceed this limit.

Although the Japanese government last year approved a law to address problems caused by excessive work, lack of stringency on recording extra hours by firms coupled with the staff’s willingness to extend working hours for a bonus make it difficult to control the practice.

–IANS

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