A Japanese Worker Was Fined For Taking Lunch 3 Minutes Too Early

The 64-year-old civil servant was punished for taking his break too early, which was announced by the bureau he works for during a press conference.

Think your boss watches your hours too closely? Maybe you don’t have it so bad; a 64-year-old civil servant worker in Japan was reprimanded and fined for leaving his job three minutes early to go out for lunch.

Representatives from the water bureau announced the worker’s infraction as “deeply regrettable,” bowing several times in apology for his actions.

“The lunch break is from noon to 1 p.m. He left his desk before the break,” they said.

The bureau did document at least 26 occasions over seven months in which he left three minutes too soon from his desk. Still, the worker’s bosses seem to be overreacting to a small breach of conduct, highlighting a problem in Japanese society in which work ethic is viewed as being valued more than the workers themselves.

The growing phenomenon in Japan is deeply alarming.

“Death by overworking,” known as karoshi, has claimed many workers’ lives, and attention to the issue has led to some lawmakers pushing for reforms, rewarding workers for performance rather than total hours on the job.

Indeed, the “punishment” and need to address a worker who leaves for lunch three minutes early is laughable, were it not such a serious problem. This is an issue that can be resolved with a simple, small, and private conversation between the worker and their supervisor. It does not require an entire press conference, nor a fine against the worker for negligence of duty.

Japan should pass legislation that tells its companies they need to lighten up, but other companies outside of that nation need to address the needs of its workers as well. High productivity is something a business and a nation should be proud of, but not when it comes at the expense of workers’ health.

Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Reuters


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