• Kyodo

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Labor authorities on Wednesday referred H.I.S. Co. and two of the travel agency’s senior officials to prosecutors for allegedly forcing employees to work overtime beyond legal limits.

The travel agency is suspected of violating the labor standards law in 2015 by making two corporate sales managers work more than the maximum 78 hours of overtime allowed per month under the company labor-management agreement.

The two employees separately clocked in at 110 hours and 135 hours of overtime during one month that year, according to sources close to the matter.

The Tokyo-based company had been advised by a labor standards office five times since 2014 to correct its practices. Authorities inspected the company in March last year and searched its offices last July, on suspicion of labor standards violations.

“We have set up an internal project to shorten business hours and manage working hours,” a H.I.S. official have said. “(Any illegal working environment) has been resolved.”

Founded in 1980 by Hideo Sawada, the travel agency has flourished as a pioneer in selling budget airline tickets. There are about 14,000 workers in the company, according to its website, with a group sales of about ¥523.7 billion in the business through October 2016.

The 2015 suicide of a young female employee at advertising giant Dentsu Inc. due to overwork has prompted a re-examination of the nation’s work culture.

Dentsu was referred to prosecutors last year over the case, while a slew of similar deaths from overwork at other companies and organizations were brought to light, leading the government to take steps toward amending the labor law to curb excessive working hours and to strengthen punishment of corporate violators.

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