TOKYO – Mitsubishi Electric is being investigated by Japanese judicial authorities that suspect the company forced an employee to work extra hours, due to which he developed a mental illness, and then fired him.
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare moved the case Wednesday to the prosecutor’s office – the second case of this kind – after Japanese advertising giant Dentsu was investigated for the death of an employee, who committed suicide due to overwork, and another similar case.
Mitsubishi Electric allegedly forced a 31-year-old employee, who was hired by the firm in April 2013, to work overtime for over 100 hours a month, news agency Kyodo reported.
A spokesperson for the firm said the matter is being dealt with carefully and that measures will be taken to keep working hours at appropriate levels.
The cases have revived concerns over the health of employees, and “karoshi” or death due to overwork in the country.
In October, the Japanese government released a report regarding these cases, which said almost one-fourth of Japanese workers exceed the 80-hour monthly overtime limit set by the country’s laws.
The repercussions of these incidents also led the government to approve in December a set of emergency measures to prevent more deaths and increase vigilance over companies to make sure they abide by the regulations.
Although the Japanese government approved a law in 2015 to address problems caused by excessive work, lack of stringency on recording extra hours by firms, coupled with the staff’s willingness to extend working hours for a bonus, makes it difficult to control the practice.