Supreme court rejects appeal to name “death by overwork” companies


Japan’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a civic group to disclose the names of companies linked to work-related deaths of dozens of its employees.

The Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision by the Osaka High Court of non-disclosure of firms whose employees have died from being overworked.

The civic group initially made the request to the Osaka Labor Bureau in 2009 to identify the companies within its jurisdiction that paid compensation for employees who suffered strokes, heart attacks, and other health problems related to work in the past seven years.

When the bureau refused, the group appealed to the Osaka District Court which ruled the companies be named.

The Osaka High Court overturned that decision, saying that “certifying brain and heart disease for workers’ compensation does not necessarily mean the companies were negligent or violated laws” but “could undermine the reputation of companies in society.”

The Ministry of Labor is looking into whether the deaths were caused by excessive work if the victim had performed monthly overtime of 80 hours or more for the preceding six months, or 100 hours for the previous one month.

“Karoshi” or “death from overwork,” claims around 200 lives in Japan every year, according to the labor ministry.

Many Japanese employees take their jobs seriously, literally working themselves to death.

A particularly hard-working employee gives up to 110 hours a week to their jobs without having much rest. The stress from heavy workload and long working hours have often led to cardiovascular attacks.

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image: hira3/Flickr




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