Japanese advertising firm fined for making employees work illegal overtime

Japanese advertising firm fined for making employees work illegal overtime

Prosecutors had charged Dentsu for making Takahashi and three others work overtime beyond limits agreed with the company's labour union between October and December 2015, Japanese media reported. Even so, the problem of karoshi has once again been thrust into the spotlight this week, with public broadcaster NHK disclosing that a 31-year-old reporter died four years ago of overwork.

"And it remained after the bubble burst in the late 1990s, when companies began restructuring and employees stayed at work to try to ensure they weren't laid off".

In addition to long hours, vacation days routinely go unused: On average, employees used less than half of their leave time in 2015 - about nine days a year, according to the Guardian. She clocked 159 hours of overtime in the month before she died of congestive heart failure.

Japan had 191 deaths which authorities have ruled as related to overwork in the past financial year - an increase of two over the previous year, the government said in an annual report on Friday.

Takahashi's death sparked a national outcry and forced the government to draw up guidelines that cap overtime at 100 hours a month, although critics say the limit needs to be lower to protect employees' health.

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Issuing a public apology, NHK said it had decided to make the incident public in an effort to prevent future tragedies, adding management had been working to improve employee conditions. It's nearly as if it is part of scheduled working hours, ' said Koji Morioka, an emeritus professor at Kansai University who is on a committee of experts advising the government on ways to combat karoshi. "I'm so exhausted", she wrote in one message. She threw herself from her the company dormitory balcony on Christmas day, a tragedy that launched a discourse within the company, the advertising industry and Japan.

In addition to the fine Dentsu CEO, Toshihiro Yamamoto, will take a 20 per cent pay cut for six months.

Labor inspectors ruled that her death was from overwork.

"My heart breaks at the thought that she may have wanted to call me" in her last moments, her mother told the Asahi daily.

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