Japan is notorious for the long hours of work that companies expect from their employees. This "service" is unpaid overtime that a company expects and often demands from employees. Periodically, this culture of unpaid overtime ends up killing otherwise healthy employees who cannot physically handle the stress and the hours involved.
The Japanese have a word ("karoshi") which translates as roughly “death from overwork.” The latest death by overwork scandal is levied against McDonald's and is winding its way through courts here in Japan.
Recently, a 25-year-old male, who was managing a store in Kawasaki, collapsed and died due to "karoshi." According to a Daily Yomiuri story, “he was working on Nov 7, 2009 from noon to the following day at 5 a.m. He then came back to work the same day (Nov 8) at noon. Soon after he collapsed and died.”
The victim's mother is trying to get compensation for the death of her son, but recently she lost a local court decision to receive financial benefit. The Jan 18 ruling upheld a labor standard assessment committee's denial to pay compensation.
The latest victim of a ridiculous schedule for the international hamburger chain is by far not the only one. In addition to the deceased manager in Kawasaki, a manager in Saitama Prefecture launched a lawsuit against McDonald's nearly five years ago regarding unpaid overtime. Also, a female manager died from overwork, due to her schedule, managing a Yokohama McDonald's outlet in 2007.
McDonald's Japan lost a lawsuit two years ago to a former manager, who collected roughly 7 million yen in compensation for all his unpaid overtime. Hiroshi Takano had worked an estimated 60-80 hours per month of service overtime, in addition to his normal, paid working schedule. Furthermore, he was denied any paid holidays for 63 days. Takano had sought a further 3 million yen in compensation for mental suffering, but that claim was rejected by the court which heard his case.
Japanese blogs and social networking sites are increasingly filling up with comments and posts about the negative aspects of taking a management role for McDonald's. Online users of 2-channel have been discussing the seemingly high salary of managers for McDonald's restaurants, but have been warning others about the possibility of literally being worked to death, and discussing negative health aspects.
Many McDonald's managers estimate that they spend roughly 80 hours per month engaged in unpaid overtime. The fact that McDonald's has been expecting managers to work 80 hours unpaid overtime for the past number of years is astonishing. This policy has led to lawsuits and deaths, but still McDonald's Japan expects far too much out of their managers and their policies have obviously changed little. The company has been able to escape with little more than a slap on the hand, despite the fact that "karoshi" deaths continue to plague the corporate giant.© Japan Today