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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 August 17 - 23  > Record number of illegal labor practices found among employers using foreign trainees
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2016 August 17 - 23 [LABOR]

Record number of illegal labor practices found among employers using foreign trainees

August 18, 2016
In 2015, 3,695 or 71.4% of 5,173 business entities used foreign trainees in violation of labor laws, the Labor Ministry announced on August 16. The number of businesses engaged in illegal labor practices increased by 24.1% from a year earlier and hit a record high.

Of the 3,695 employers, 1,169 or 31.6% violated work hour regulations such as long working hours exceeding the legal limit, 1,076 or 29.1% broke occupational safety regulations, and 774 or 20.9% were involved in non-payment of the proper amount for overtime work.

One employer, for example, forced foreign trainees to work up to 169 hours of overtime a month, neglected to pay the legal amount for overtime, and refused to provide the workers with legally-required health checks. Another employer had eight foreign interns work 120 hours of overtime a month on average. In addition, the amount of wage theft by this employer from the eight interns totaled 18.85 million yen.

The Labor Ministry sent to local prosecutors’ offices reports on 46 business entities which keep violating labor laws and ignoring the ministry’s instructions. The number of reports sent increased by 76.9% from the previous year. The reports included a fatal accident in which a forklift turned over after the employer ordered a foreign trainee to drive the vehicle without a license.

The foreign trainee program is designed to promote the economic development of developing countries through technology transfer. However, the program has been criticized for allowing the exploitation of foreign trainees as cheap labor. Currently, 190,000 foreign trainees are working in 35,000 business entities across the country under the program. The Abe government plans to enact in the upcoming Diet session a bill to further expand the use of this problematic program.

Past related articles:
> Zenroren calls for government measures to eliminate human rights abuses against foreign trainees [July 29, 2016]
> Illegal labor practices and human rights abuses against foreign trainees unacceptable: JCP Hatano [April 7, 2016]
> 80% of employers using foreign trainees violate labor laws [October 2, 2015]
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