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Not paying overtime is the biggest “sin” a potential employer can commit to get labeled as an abusive “black company” to be avoided by college students entering the job market, according to a survey of young job hunters.

Over 60 percent of 1,650 university and graduate school students polled in January by Tokyo-based recruitment consulting firm Disco Inc. said they wouldn’t consider applying to firms labeled or rumored to be “black.”

Asked what typifies a so-called black company, respondents cited extended overtime, low wages and various forms of harassment, and a high turnover rate among young workers.

Mentioned by over 75 percent on a multiple-response questionnaire, “not paying overtime” was the most common characteristic of a black company. “Severe working conditions” was cited by 65 percent, “high turnover rate” by 58.0 percent and “put under excessive stress for failing to meet expectations” by 55.7 percent.

It’s believed the term black company was coined by young workers in the information technology industry in the 2000s. Nowadays, the pejorative term, with its connotations of sweatshop conditions, is applied across a wide range of industries, including food, retail and welfare services.

To help stop abusive practices, the labor ministry last year decided, starting from spring 2015, to ask firms that plan to recruit students through Hello Work job placement centers to disclose their turnover rates for the previous three years.

Over 62 percent of the respondents to the Disco Inc. survey said they wouldn’t apply to black firms.

“It will have a major impact on firms once they are labeled as black companies, as about 60 percent of respondents said they won’t apply to such firms,” a Disco Inc. spokeswoman said.

However, 32.2 percent said they would apply, depending on the circumstances. One male respondent said he might have no choice if he fails to land a job elsewhere. A female student said she would apply to keep her options open.

The remaining 5.3 percent said they would apply as they would to any other company.

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