National

41% of Hello Work job ads are misleading, ministry probe finds

by Atsushi Kodera

Staff Writer

Thousands of job ads posted on Hello Work, the nationwide public employment service, are misleading job-seekers by listing exaggerated pay and conditions, an investigation has found.

The labor ministry on Thursday said inquiries into roughly 9,380 complaints from job-seekers found 41 percent of advertisers listed false or misleading data.

Applicants reported being forced to work longer hours than described, and for less pay, and being told to sacrifice holidays they are entitled to by law, according to the probe, conducted by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The investigation covered job complaints filed at 544 Hello Work offices across the country in fiscal 2013. The employment centers, administered by the labor ministry, provide job-matching and training services by posting information from employers and acting as intermediaries with job-seekers.

The ratio of fraudulent ads may have been even greater than 41 percent because in a further 27 percent of cases, job-seekers who complained did not respond to further inquiries, officials said.

The job security law obliges employers who advertise open positions to provide accurate information.

Meanwhile, the labor ministry found 18 percent, or 1,645 cases, were simply cases in which employers provided too little information on working conditions.

Public outcry over the “burakku kigyo” (black enterprise) phenomenon was the trigger for this investigation, said Yotaro Otsuka, a senior ministry official. The trend emerged during the sharp economic slump caused by the 2008 global financial crisis, when employers found they could exploit desperate workers.

The ministry decided to launch the investigation after NHK aired a television documentary on black firms in July, drawing public attention to the issue, he said.

Job postings at Hello Work are based on data provided by the companies involved. They can be viewed on the Internet, although applicants are required to visit a Hello Work center in person to apply.

The ministry investigated the complaints by having Hello Work staff contact complainers and employers, Otsuka said.

Most of the reported violations, or 2,848 of the total, constituted ads offering inflated pay figures. This was followed by ads that listed false working hours, which accounted for 1,744 cases.

A total of 1,326 ads were related to subsequent screening or demands not mentioned in the ad. These included ads that promised interview-only selection but where the employer later demanded a resume, too.

In 1,043 cases, applicants were assigned a position other than that described, and in 779 cases applicants were offered conditions substantially different from those offered — part-time work, for example, instead of a full-time job.

In March, the ministry instructed Hello Work offices to scrutinize job ads by talking to company representatives in person and to act swiftly when problems are detected, Otsuka said. It also set up a complaints hot line for job-seekers who might choose not to take their grievance to Hello Work directly.

A public information campaign urges them to speak up, with posters at job offices and notices on the ministry website.