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1 in 4 firms say workers log over 80 overtime hours a month

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1 in 4 firms say workers log over 80 overtime hours a month

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Nearly 1 in 4 companies have admitted that some employees do more than 80 hours of overwork per month, according to the nation’s first white paper on “karoshi” or death by overwork.

According to the survey, about 10.8% of companies said they had workers putting in 80 to 100 hours of overtime a month, while another 11.9% said they had workers doing more than 100 hours.

The paper, said to be the first of its kind in the world, was based on responses from 1,743 companies and 19,583 workers. It had targeted 10,000 firms and 20,000 employees.

By industry

IT workers were found to be the most overworked, with 44.4% of IT companies saying some of their employees did more than 80 hours of overtime per month. For academic, research and engineering-sector organizations the number was 40.5%, followed by transport and postal services companies at 38.4%.

How many lives?

Meanwhile, the government acknowledged 96 deaths from strokes and heart attacks as being work related and awarded compensation to such karoshi victims in fiscal 2015. It also awarded compensation in 93 cases where people distressed by work-related problems committed or attempted suicide. Experts, however, have long said criteria used for the state compensation scheme is too narrow and that the actual number of people who die from overwork is much higher.

According to National Police Agency statistics, 2,159 people committed suicide due at least in part to work-related problems in 2015.

Looking ahead

The government has set a goal of lowering the percentage of employees working more than 60 hours a week to 5% of the total workforce. It also wants all workers to take at least 70% of their paid holidays by 2020.

The anti-karoshi law mandates the central and local governments to research various factors behind overwork, as well as raise awareness, strengthen consultation programs and aid private-sector support groups.

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