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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 January 16 - 22  > Physicians’ union: Labor Ministry proposes putting ceiling on doctors’ overtime which exceeds official gov’t-set danger line for ‘karoshi’
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2019 January 16 - 22 [LABOR]

Physicians’ union: Labor Ministry proposes putting ceiling on doctors’ overtime which exceeds official gov’t-set danger line for ‘karoshi’

January, 18, 2019
A national union of physicians on January 17 expressed its opposition to the Labor Ministry’s plan to set an upper limit on hospital doctors’ overtime at 2,000 hours a year, saying that the proposed ceiling is unreasonably high and totally unacceptable.

At a press conference held in Tokyo, Ueyama Naoto, who heads the physicians’ union, said that a cap of 2,000 hours of overtime a year is almost two times higher than the government-set danger line for death from overwork (karoshi). He criticized the Labor Ministry for paying little attention to the risk of karoshi. He also said that the proposed upper limit for hospital doctors is far higher than that for other workers and that such a disparity violates the principle of equality under the law. Ueyama went on to say that hospital doctors working 2,000 hours overtime annually will be unable to enjoy the constitutional right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.

Ueyama pointed out that the existing serious shortage of physicians is due to the government policy to restrict the number of doctors and that the government should not have individual doctors pay for its negligence. He urged the government to take measures to address the issue of doctors’ excessively long working hours and take steps to increase the number of physicians.

The press conference was attended by the head of a Tokyo group of families of karoshi victims, Nakahara Noriko. Nakahara’s husband was a pediatrician and committed suicide because of excessive overwork. She stressed that the Labor Ministry’s plan will force hospital doctors to keep shouldering heavy workloads and will not contribute to the elimination of karoshi. She added that such a policy will discourage young people from becoming a doctor. Nakahara said that if the current harsh working conditions of hospital doctors remain unchanged, it will further fuel the labor shortage.

Past related articles:
> Doctors in rotating shifts work 64 hours of overtime a month: union survey [November 11, 2017]
> Symposium held to discuss issue of overworked hospital doctors [September 10, 2017]
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