More than 10,000 businesses in Japan breached overtime laws

Japan’s labour ministry says it confirmed cases of illegal overtime work at more than 10,000 business places across Japan in fiscal 2021.
By: | August 23, 2022

The Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry conducted on-site inspections at 32,025 business places in the year that ended in March. They included places where workers had complained of long hours. 

Inspectors found employees had worked illegal overtime at 10,986 locations. Overtime exceeding 80 hours per month was found at 4,158 locations, and 100 hours per month at 2,643 locations. In one case, 246 hours of illegal work was confirmed. 

Ministry inspectors also found that workers had not been paid extra for overtime at 2,652 locations. 

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The labour ministry says many businesses may have required employees to work long hours because as economic activity recovers from the pandemic it is harder to find new staff. The ministry says it will provide closer guidance to businesses because working long hours can lead workers to develop health problems, according to NHK.

Japan officially adopted a 40-hour work week in 1987 and hours worked beyond that are considered overtime. Labour laws in the country generally limit overtime to 45 hours a month. However, if a business is undergoing extraordinary circumstances and its employees agree to work more overtime, they can be granted permission to work up to 80 hours of overtime per month based on the average of several months.