Japan Trials Early-Mark Fridays to Prevent Worker Suicide

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A vital initiative.

A busy pedestrian crossing in Japan

Achieving work-life balance has become a major focus for Japan – a country that has a word that means ‘death from overwork’ (karoshi), and where more than 20 per cent of employees work more than 80 hours of overtime each month.

This is the motivation behind a new scheme from the Japanese government which asks companies to let their staff knock off at 3pm on the last Friday of the month. The hope is that they’ll use this time to hit the shops (a consumer-spending boost wouldn’t hurt, with Japan’s retail sales on the decline) or head off for a relaxing weekend away.

The initiative is thought to have come about partly in response to the suicide of a 24-year-old advertising professional who worked more than 100 hours overtime prior to her death. It’s all part of a larger effort to address the country’s long work hours that has also seen the government submitting a proposal to cap overtime at 60 hours a month.

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