Electronics giant Panasonic has urged its employees to leave office by 8 p.m., during a time when Japan is reviewing its long working hours following the 2015 suicide by a young woman who had put in more than 100 hours of overtime per month.
Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga personally took charge of e-mailing its 100,000 employees in Japan about the decision, a company spokeswoman confirmed to Efe news on Thursday.
The regulation that came into force on February 1, also applies to executive posts, but does not affect the board of directors.
The idea of work-life balance has been gaining momentum in Japan in the light of the suicide case from 2015.
For example, Daiwa Securities Group recently approved a campaign urging employees to leave the office at 7 p.m., while Unicharm, a hygiene products manufacturer, has prohibited overtime after 10 p.m.
Historically, Panasonic has been among those Japanese firms which have paid more attention to such moves; in 1965, it prohibited the 6-day working week amidst the Japanese economic boom, something which most other firms did not change until the 1980s.
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The suicide by Matsuri Takahashi in December 2015, after just seven months employment with advertising giant Dentsu, has put the spotlight back on Japanese companies’ working hours and “karoshi”, or death by excessive work.
The labour ministry has decided to take Takahashi’s case to court on the grounds that Dentsu did not comply with labour norms, systematically tampering with their employees’ overtime records.