Achieving work-life balance has become a major focus for Japan â€“ a country that has a word that means â€˜death from overworkâ€™ (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 theyâ€™ll use this time to hit the shops (a consumer-spending boost wouldnâ€™t hurt, with Japanâ€™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. Itâ€™s all part of a larger effort to address the countryâ€™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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