National

Government plans to cap overtime at yearly average of 60 hours per month

Kyodo

The government plans to propose an overtime cap to address the widespread issue of excessively long working hours based on a yearly average of 60 hours per month, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

The labor ministry limits overtime to 45 hours a month, but that can be expanded by drafting a special labor-management arrangement.

The proposal, which the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to submit in mid-February to a panel on work reform, would permit up to 100 hours of overtime per month during busy seasons as long as the yearly average doesn’t exceed 60 hours per month, the sources said.

The plan will be finalized in March and a revision to the labor law will be sent to the Diet, they said.

The exception to allow up to 100 hours will likely draw objections from the opposition camp and labor unions because it exceeds the threshold of 80 hours said to cause serious health consequences.

A series of problems associated with excessive work hours have drawn public attention, including the recent suicide of an overworked employee at advertising giant Dentsu Inc.

In December 2015, Matsuri Takahashi, then 24, jumped from a dormitory of the giant advertisement agency.

Labor authorities later found that she had logged 105 hours of overtime in a month before going into depression in November that year.

The case of karoshi, or death from overwork, prompted Dentsu to shake up its top management. Earlier this month, the company decided to promote Senior Vice President Toshihiro Yamamoto to president, replacing Tadashi Ishii who will step down to take responsibility for the case.

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