Unpaid Overtime Surging in Japan
TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese workers putting in overtime hours for which they are not compensated has surged, reaching a 30-year high, labor officials and news reports said Tuesday.
A total of 17,000 companies, or 13 percent of those labor officials inspected, admitted to failing to pay overtime or nighttime allowances last year, labor ministry spokesman Shuji Kawamata said.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan’s leading business newspaper, said the number of violations was the highest since 1971.
Kawamata confirmed that violations have been rising in recent years, but could not immediately confirm the newspaper report. The number of violations was slightly above 7,000 cases in 1997, he said.
Nearly 50 severe cases, up 15 from a year earlier, were reported to prosecutors for possible criminal investigation, Kawamata said. The violations otherwise generally involve only a warning, with no fine.
Most of the violators involved small- and medium-sized firms, which are hit hard by Japan’s more than a decade-long slump.
The labor ministry issued guidelines in May urging employers to observe the labor law, which requires an additional 25 percent pay for every hour exceeding an eight-hour day, as well as another 25 percent for overnight work.