Business / Corporate

Suicide of Mitsubishi Electric unit employee caused by overwork, labor office rules

Kyodo

A labor standards office has concluded that the suicide in 2017 of an employee at a unit of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. was work-related, recognizing that he did more than 100 hours of overtime per month while in a supervisory position, company officials said Friday.

The Oct. 4 certification regarding the death of the engineer, who was in his 40s, at Melco Semiconductor Engineering Corp. in Fukuoka Prefecture came as labor authorities step up monitoring, after finding that a slew of firms have promoted workers to supervisory positions in order to make them work longer hours.

Japanese labor law limits the working hours of regular employees, but the restrictions do not apply to workers in supervisory positions.

The worker was on loan to another Mitsubishi Electric unit from April 2013, and his mental health was affected after he was assigned a heavy workload at a plant in Toyooka in Hyogo Prefecture.

He killed himself in December 2017 after being transferred to work in Fukuoka Prefecture, and his family filed to have his death certified as work-related in July of last year.

In his role in Fukuoka he was subject to the discretionary labor system, which rewards workers based on predetermined number of overtime hours instead of the actual hours worked.

“We take seriously the fact that a worker at a related company has died,” Mitsubishi Electric said in a statement. “We will work on thoroughly implementing appropriate labor control.”

The labor authorities awarded workers’ compensation to five employees at Mitsubishi Electric between 2014 and 2017, two of whom had killed themselves.