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14 Mar 2017

Japan: Trade Union Federation agrees to overtime limit up to karoshi line


Rengo, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, has reportedly agreed with the business community to a legal limit of 100 hours overtime per month. Several high profile incidents of “karoshi” (death from overwork) in recent months has lead the government to prepare a bill setting a legal limit for how much overtime workers can be required to perform. After negotiations between Rengo and Keidanren, the powerful Japanese Business Federation, it appears that Rengo has agreed to a maximum of 100 hours overtime over a period of one month during peak periods, in addition to an average limit of 80 hours overtime per month for a maximum of six months a year. The limit agreed to by Rengo and Keidanren mirrors the “karoshi line” set by the government, meaning that, should the provision become law, workers can be legally required to perform overtime up to this “karoshi line”. The bill currently provides for minimum intervals between work days, but in non-binding language.

Japanese labour law allows for unions (most of which are company, not trade, based) to enter into agreements with management as to how much overtime can be asked of workers. There is currently no legal limit on these agreements, with the result that some companies provide for as much as 150 hours overtime. Work related deaths and suicides are estimated to number in the thousands in Japan.