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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 September 26 - October 2  > Mitsubishi Electric abolishes discretionary work system
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2018 September 26 - October 2 [LABOR]

Mitsubishi Electric abolishes discretionary work system

September 28, 2018

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation stopped using the discretionary work system after three workers who worked under this system were officially recognized as having committed suicide or developed brain diseases due to excessively long working hours. Akahata learned on September 27.

The three workers worked at the Communication Networks Center, the Sanda Works (Hyogo Prefecture), and the company head office (Tokyo), respectively. A worker at the Communication Networks Center in 2016 committed suicide after suffering from mental problems. One year later, his death was recognized as work-related. The other two had developed overwork-induced brain diseases and achieved the official recognition separately in 2016 and 2017.

Mitsubishi Electric, one of Japan’s leading manufacturers of electronic products, since 2004 has applied the discretionary labor scheme to 10,000 specialized jobs among 30,000 jobs. The maker, however, in March decided to get rid of this work system, reportedly with the aim of protecting workers from excessively long working hours and resulting in health damages.

The discretionary labor system is one of the accepted flexible working hour systems under the Labor Standards Law. It enables employers to make an agreement with workers that wages are paid for a previously agreed-upon number of hours instead of the actual number of hours worked.

Prime Minister Abe has insisted that workers under the discretionary system work fewer hours than ordinary workers. Early this year, he intended to submit a bill to the Diet to expand the scope of jobs covered by this labor system as part of his “work-style reform” policies which Abe describes as measures to reduce working hours. However, it was revealed that the Labor Ministry falsified data which was used to support Abe’s argument. Abe was driven into giving up on his attempt to introduce the bill.

Past related article:
> JCP Takahashi criticizes Abe gov’t for falsifying data in order to expand system increasing unpaid overtime [February 21, 2018]
> Abe admits discretionary work system won't contribute to reducing working hours [February 15, 2018]
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