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Limiting Overtime to Address Excessive Working Hours

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In 2017, Panasonic — a Japanese multinational electronics company — was named by the Japanese Government for illegal overwork of employees. Furthermore, in 2019, Panasonic was linked to the improper treatment of employees, particularly with respect to its internship programme. It was found that 82 interns were employed in violation of labour laws. As a result, Panasonic was fined, forced to cancel technical trainee overseas internship programmes and is unable to employ any foreign interns until 2023.

Following allegations of excessive overtime, Panasonic reduced hours that still enabled a 55-hour working week, but limited overtime to 80 hours a month, a regulation that formally came into place in February 2017, applying to all tiers of employees except the board of directors. In 2017, Panasonic also participated in formulating a joint declaration addressing long working hours alongside other Japanese economic and industry groups. The Declaration includes measures that commit companies to comply with local labour laws; requires all new contracts to integrate additional terms to avoid overwork; and calls for companies to avoid work engagements and meetings outside of standard working hours.

Additionally, Panasonic further updated its working hours policies, which outline appropriate working hours, overtime work, annual leave and breaks. Panasonic expects that its new management approach will help eliminate overtime work of more than 80 hours per month.

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