Subaru Corporation doesn’t need any more bad news, but it just keeps on coming. According to a report from Channel News Asia, Subaru Corp said it did not pay overtime wages over a two-year period to 3,421 employees at their Gunma, factory in Japan who under-reported their hours. This is the plant where Subaru produces the all-new 2019 Subaru Forester SUV, Crosstrek, WRX/STI, and BRZ. The leak surfaced as a result of an internal probe following the 2016 suicide of an overworked employee.
The outstanding wages from mid-2015 to 2017 have been paid by Subaru retroactively last March to employees and totaled $7.08 million USD. Japanese media reported the news on Friday after a lawyer of the deceased worker's family disclosed some of the findings.
The news reports say a 46-year-old white-collar worker jumped to his death from the roof of Subaru’s Gunma factory in 2016, in what Japanese authorities call “karoshi”, or death from overwork. This was at a time when Subaru of America was selling record numbers of the popular Forester SUV and Crosstrek CUV and set a new all-time sales record of 615,132 vehicles in 2016. Workers at the Japan factory felt pressure to keep up a hectic pace.
Subaru conducted an internal probe found the practice of employees working overtime was common, and the Japanese automaker found the majority of workers it surveyed said they under-reported overtime hours "so as not to exceed the limit for the budget for overtime work”. Subaru says they have taken steps to ensure employees are unable to falsely report their actual work hours. No instructions from superiors to their employees to under-report their overtime were confirmed, the company said.
A Subaru official insisted the company did not intentionally cover up the unpaid overtime and didn’t recognize the finding as "one that had to be made public." The employee who took his life after working excessive overtime, under-reported his extra work hours. He reported them as “zero” despite working approximately 105 hours of overtime about a month before he killed himself, according to the lawyer representing his family.
The worker’s unpaid overtime wages reached about 4.08 million yen.($37,000 USD) and Subaru is working out payment with the family. Subaru didn’t disclose the unreported overtime misconduct for about a year, calling into question the company’s corporate attitude toward its employees.
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Photo credit: Subaru Corporation