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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 October 11 - 17  > Emotionally-ill NEC worker and union rebuff labor office claim for return of workers’ comp
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2023 October 11 - 17 [LABOR]

Emotionally-ill NEC worker and union rebuff labor office claim for return of workers’ comp

October 13, 2023
With help from the Denki-Joho Union, an NEC worker suffering from an emotional disorder due to excessively long working hours has successfully had a labor standards inspection office withdraw its decision to terminate workers’ compensation payments and to claim the return of two million yen paid in medical expenses.

Accompanied by Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Kurabayashi Akiko, Haga Masakazu, who is in his 50s and works at the NEC headquarters, and Denki-Joho Union representatives made a representation to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on October 12, demanding that the labor law enforcement office decision be retracted. A ministry official apologized to Haga and rescinded the repayment request.

In 2001, Haga took sick leave for mental health problems after working 150 hours of overtime a month. He then got fired, but in September 2006 he was recognized as eligible for workers’ compensation. In 2009, Haga reconfirmed that he still has an employment relation with NEC. In February 2019, Haga returned to work while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. From August 2022 to November 2022, he again took sick leave due to work-related stress. He is now back to work, receiving continuous treatment. In February 2023, the labor inspection office judged that Haga’s emotional problems have no hope of recovery and discontinued the payments of workers’ compensation to him. On top of that, the labor authority requested that Haga repay two million yen in medical expenses needed for his treatment.

Maita Tokuji, chairperson of the Denki-Joho Union, said, “It was inappropriate for the labor inspection office to have viewed his symptoms as a permanent disorder when Haga was trying hard to make a comeback while alternating between job training and sick leave. An increasing number of workers suffer from mental health problems. A workplace environment where workers can work without undue worries is necessary.”

Haga said, “I’m relieved. I hope the union will rescue more workers who are still in the same position as I was.”
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