We’ve all heard the stories about how Japanese trains issue an apology and a delay certificate to passengers whenever the train is late, so we know that they take punctuality very seriously. We’ve also seen the memes about how falling asleep at work is considered a ‘good thing’ because you’ve been working so hard and tired yourself out.
It’s easy to have a laugh about their rules while skipping off for an extra long lunch mid-week. Unfortunately, if you tried to pull the same stunt in Japan it may not work out as well, which a 64-year-old man recently found out when he had half a day’s salary docked by his company after leaving for lunch 3 minutes early, yes you read that right, 3 minutes early.
— 荒川和久@「超ソロ社会」著者 (@wildriverpeace) 18 June 2018
The company also held a press conference to publicly apologise for the man’s behaviour, bowing deeply for 4 seconds. A spokesman for the waterworks bureau told Agence France-Presse on Thursday: “The lunch break is from noon to 1 p.m. He left his desk before the break.”
This happened 26 times between September 2017 and March 2018, meaning a total of 78 minutes was lost to early breaks. The man was discovered after a colleague looked out the window one day and spotted him leaving the building early, Asahi said.
According to the man’s superiors, the reason he gave for leaving the office to buy his lunch was because he wanted “a change of pace”. In Japanese workplace culture, however, people usually eat lunch at their desks and work long hours so this act may be seen as unprofessional. Many Japanese people have spoken out against the strict handling of the incident commenting “Are people not even allowed to go to the toilet now? This is like workplace slavery or something.”