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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 13 - 19  > Court orders employer accepting temps to compensate for work-related death
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2008 February 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Court orders employer accepting temps to compensate for work-related death

February 14, 2008
The Tokyo District Court on February 13 ordered a company accepting temporary workers as well as another company that supplies them to pay a total of about 52 million yen in compensation for the work-related death of a worker.

The ruling recognized that the worker was actually forced to work as “disguised contract labor” and that the company that had accepted him failed to fulfill its responsibility to ensure workers’ safety.

The plaintiff’s legal team said that it is extremely unusual for a court to order not only a staffing agency but also a company accepting temporary workers to pay compensation.

In July 2003, then 22-year-old Iikubo Shuhei took up a job offer from Techno Assist Sagami in Kanagawa Prefecture and worked at a factory of Daiwa Can Company in Tokyo. He checked cans moving down a 2-meter high assembly line, while standing on a 90-centimeter high and 40-centimeter wide footstool. On August 2, while working alone, he fell from the step and died three months later.

The use of temporary workers in the manufacturing sector was forbidden at that time, but Techno Assist Sagami and Daiwa Can Company claimed that their practice was legitimate because they had a contract to outsource the work.

The court, however, ruled that they engaged in the illegal practice of “disguised contract labor,” stating, “In reality, the worker worked under instructions of Daiwa Can Company and thus an employer-employee relationship existed.”

Shuhei’s father at a press conference said, “I filed this lawsuit with the objective of eliminating the use of temporary workers in working conditions in which they are forced to risk their lives. I hope workers that are working under similar conditions as my son can work safely.”

His lawyer said, “It is significant that the court recognized the responsibility of the company that accepts temporary workers. Under the circumstances that the number of contingent workers in the manufacturing sector is increasing, this court decision warns employers to ensure the safety of workers.”
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