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71% of firms accepting foreign trainees violated labor law in 2015

Over 70 percent of businesses that employ foreign workers as technical trainees violated the Labor Standards Act last year in cases such as not paying proper wages and forcing long working hours on the trainees, a labor ministry report has shown.

    The government is working on the promotion of foreign labor through the use of the "Technical Intern Training Program" and other measures amid the aging population and low fertility rate in Japan, but many of the companies that accept foreign trainees were found not to have followed the labor law when employing these workers.

    The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry oversaw 5,173 firms that use the training program, and according to its study, a record 3,695 violated the Labor Standards Act, up 718 from the year before. The rate of businesses that breached the law was 71.4 percent, a drop of 4.6 points from 2014.

    By breakdown, 22.6 percent were found to have forced long working hours on the trainees that top the maximum hours permitted under the law, followed by the violation of safety standards at workplaces at 20.8 percent, failure to pay proper wages such as overtime pay at 15 percent and employers not presenting labor conditions to trainees at 11.4 percent, among other cases.

    In a case revealed by the ministry, a clothing manufacturer failed to pay some 3.8 million yen to a total of five foreign trainees by forging payroll books to make it look like the firm was paying the trainees more than the minimum wage as well as overtime pay. In another case, an employer made at least one trainee work more than 100 hours of overtime in a month without paying any overtime wages, which are set to be 25 percent above the normal hourly rate under the law, while paying only 500 yen per hour, which was lower than the minimum wage.

    In many cases, businesses forced foreign trainees to work more than 100 hours of overtime per month, which is said to be the red line for causing death by overwork.

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