〈中部経済新聞 「中経論壇」平成26年７月１日掲載 池田桂子 〉
The latest situation concerning about Mental health
In the past, an employee who suffered from a mental illness or disease was thought to be a troublemaker and one who was typically disliked in the company. However, recently the some employees have committed suicide caused from overwork and those cases have become and recognized as a serious social problem, the responsibility of the company has brought accusations in a few courts. So in 2000, one case with regard to a suicide of an employee due to overwork, was heard in the Supreme Court and has been recognized as having a punitive responsibility of the company now in Japan.
From the point of view of an employee, such information about the his/her name being mentioned as an employee who is or is about to visit a psychiatrist is personal and confidential and that they do not want that information made public or known to the company. In other words, it may be said that the company cannot expect to receive any form of a report or information from the employee.
In addition, there may be some rather unclear boundaries between what may seem to be an employee just being lazy or one suffering from depression and perhaps a “new depression” which is not clear and difficult to judge from a layman’s point of view. It is not easily known as to the seriousness of mental illness if one exists. It is important to take appropriate action at an early stage in any case.
Judging from the main stream of some of the cases related to labor, you will not be able to be in a position to understand the real problems of individual employees, as far as a safety consideration and the obligation of employers. A recent court case is requesting that a high level of due diligence and obligation within that mentality favors on the side of the employer.
Without a declaration from an employee, it becomes difficult for an employer to understand the real issues and be aggressive, if certain types of work should be continued by an employee, when the deterioration of his/her physical condition can be seen, and if necessary, have the work either reduced or shifted to another acceptable form of work. In some cases, I think the company needs to change their policy and for example, the company should order a leave of absence, and stem the damage caused by inaccurate work or a delay of business.
As a measure of responsibility to the company, management should watch an employee with a considerable amount of interest at all times, and to change their subordinates, in accordance with a change if it should become necessary. Management should be proactive and should be able to respond quickly. In other words, by providing a system that allows consultations, and in some cases subjecting an employee to a formal medical interview and with the guidance of a physician, promote him/her with a “notice” of the opportunity for mental health intervention and cure.
In the current Diet session, amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act has been discussed, it is expected that if it is amended, by the end of next fiscal year. The employer “stress check” is mandatory. With a partly dissenting opinion, it is likely that only a person who wants that subject would have it available, however in businesses with more than 50 people, if there is an offer to an employee who wishes to be interviewed for guidance,the employer will have to provide the opportunity of that guidance by a physician . There is also a report that the management wants to receive t guidance is roughly 60%, and non-management positions are more than 50%.
The “Guidelines for the maintenance and promotion of the mental health of workers” which was created by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the points to watch the managers and supervisors have been listed.
<Keiko Ikeda published July 1, 2014 Chubu Keizai newspaper “medium through Tribune” Heisei