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Japan – Mazda loses misclassification case

14 March 2013

Mazda Motor Corp was ordered to pay unpaid wages to 13 former temporary agency workers after the Yamaguchi District Court ruled on Wednesday that the company’s employment practices were illegal.

The court decided that the temporary workers were “regular” and not temporary employees. Based on this reasoning, the workers should therefore receive the payment they were entitled to as such regular employees, the court said.

The ruling is deemed a landmark decision which acknowledges the rights of temporary workers and could pave the way for similar claims to go ahead successfully in the future. Current legislation states that companies have to directly hire agency workers after three consecutive years of employment.

Mazda was accused of evading this three-year cap by hiring the workers directly as “support workers”, only to later re-hire them as temporary or dispatched workers.

The lawsuit was filed by former temporary workers who had worked at the company for up to five years before being laid off in 2008. The plaintiffs claimed that Mazda had avoided the three-year rule under its “support employee” system.

Mazda said it was “regrettable” that the claim was dismissed by the judge who said that the workers could not really be recognised as dispatched workers. 

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