Half of Japan firms face tighter audits, review working hours: Poll

Features Reuters

Around half of Japanese companies are facing tighter audits and have boosted or may take steps to boost accounting compliance - moves that come after a damaging accounting scandal at conglomerate Toshiba Corp last year, a Reuters poll found. [nL4N1D93JV]

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The same survey also found that about half of firms are reviewing working hours, with many looking to cut down on overtime, in a sign that the government has gained traction in its campaign for more employee-friendly labor practices. The results also comes amid a 'death from overwork' scandal at Dentsu Inc after a young worker committed suicide. [nL4N1DA1BT]

Below are the questions and answers to the poll conducted Oct. 26-Nov. 8 for Reuters by Nikkei Research. Answers are denoted in percentage points, while poll and reply totals are represented in actual figures.

1. The government is campaigning for labor reform. Are you reviewing working hours?

Sectors Yes No Polled Replied

All 56 44 531 252

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Manufacturers 53 47 261 135

Non-Manufacturers 59 41 270 117

2. Concerning Article 36 of the labor code, how much overtime a month is allowed under your agreement with labor unions? (Pick one)

Sectors Below 45 45-60 60-70 70-80 Over 80 Time Have not Polled Replied

hours hours hours hours hours unspecified concluded

such

agreement

All 57 25 4 4 5 4 1 531 241

Manufacturers 60 25 2 4 5 4 1 261 129

Non-Manufacturers 54 25 7 4 5 4 2 270 112

3. Are you reviewing or do you plan to review lowering your company's limits on overtime?

Sectors Yes No Polled Replied

All 14 86 531 235

Manufacturers 12 88 261 126

Non-Manufacturers 16 84 270 109

3a. If you answered yes for the above question, by how many hours would you lower the limit on overtime? (Pick one)

Sectors 1-5 hours 5-10 hours Over 10 Polled Replied

a month a month hours a

month

All 48 16 35 531 31

Manufacturers 60 7 33 261 15

Non-Manufacturers 38 25 38 270 16

4. How many hours of overtime do employees put in per month on average at your company? (Pick one)

Sectors Less than 15-30 30-45 45-60 Over 60 Average Polled Replied

15 hours hours hours hours hours (hours)

All 35 46 16 3 0 20.7 531 238

Manufacturers 39 51 8 2 0 18.2 261 127

Non-Manufacturers 30 41 24 5 1 23.4 270 111

5. Audit firms have been seeking to improve since an accounting scandal hit Toshiba Corp last year. Do you see any changes in the way you have been audited?

Sectors Yes No Polled Replied

All 52 48 531 246

Manufacturers 55 45 261 132

Non-Manufacturers 50 50 270 114

5a. If you answer yes, exactly how have audit firms' responses have changed? (Multiple choices allowed)

Sectors More More Better Auditing Others Polled Replied

detailed meetings advice fees have

questioning with increased

auditors

All 85 33 17 8 10 531 126

Manufacturers 86 34 14 8 11 261 71

Non-Manufacturers 84 31 20 7 7 270 55

5b. If auditing fees have increased, do you think the fee increase was justified?

Sectors Yes No Polled Replied

All 70 30 531 10

Manufacturers 67 33 261 6

Non-Manufacturers 75 25 270 4

6. Are you strengthening or do you plan to strengthen accounting compliance, such as by increasing manpower and making in-house rules more rigorous?

Sectors Yes Not really Polled Replied

All 50 50 531 246

Manufacturers 50 50 261 130

Non-Manufacturers 49 51 270 116

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Izumi Nakagawa; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)