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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 March 13 - 19  > Abe wants to allow white-collar exemption to save corporations from overtime payment
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2013 March 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Abe wants to allow white-collar exemption to save corporations from overtime payment

March 14, 2013
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is trying to institute a “white-collar exemption” to legalize overtime work without pay, just as he intended to introduce when he was in power in 2007.

The Council for Regulatory Reform which Abe reorganized in January places major emphasis on deregulation in the field of labor.

The council is discussing abolishing working hour restrictions on those who engage in work such as research and development which require creativity based on professional expertise and skills. The council members claim that the number of hours they worked has little to do with their output.

However, the limit on working hours is set to protect workers’ health under labor laws.

Workers in Japan are forced to work long hours. Quite a few workers suffer from negative health effects and some have died due to excessively long working hours and heavy workloads. More and more people are applying for recognition of work-related mental illnesses.

In 2011, labor standards inspection offices ordered corporations to pay a total of 14.6 billion yen in back pay for unpaid overtime work, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If no additional payment is required for overtime work, companies would impose heavier workloads on their employees and make them work even longer hours than now. That will lead to further deterioration to workers’ health.
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