Overtime in Japan

January 29, 2008

Companies always find creative ways around paying overtime to employees. Apparently America based companies are no different… though to be fair, because of Japanese economic policies it’s hard for foreign companies to enter Japan without some kind of Japanese base. (Hence pepsi is put out by Suntory, Walmart bought into Seiyu…).

Anyway, teachers are among those that Japanese law excludes from the labor laws about overtime pay. Teachers can work everyday without a special kind of overtime pay. Supervisors or managers seem to fit in as well. T

Today’s big news story is about a man who successfully sued McDonalds for 7.55 million yen in overtime allowance and additional pay. He was a manager at a McDonald’s who worked the requisite crazy hours, but wants to get paid for it. He successfully argued that he does not actually have the type of
job (and responsibility) that the labor law says is exempt. He was actually paid less than people he was supposed to be in charge of, and the managerial position came with a pay cut.

This morning on the news he also told a story about how his wife fell ill all of a sudden at home and was taken to the hospital. When he was finally heard about it and was able to go home, one of his kids said that he works so much he wouldn’t even know if one of them died. I think that’s one of the points of his mental anguish suit… just how much time he couldn’t be with his family. The weakness of this argument lies in how much effort he put into getting the time off he needed and deserved.

Right now companies all over Japan are changing job titles, rewriting job descriptions and cutting deals with overworked managers in order to avoid the splash back from this case.

It’s a good time for people in Japan to put in for a vacation! The company will definitely think twice before refusing (at least until they find the kind of policy wording that will give them the upper hand in court.)

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