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I’m stressed as I can’t take enough days off from work

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 20s. I can’t take sufficient days off from my work and am becoming more and more frustrated.

My main work is to make bento meals to sell at convenience stores. I enjoy doing this work and I’m proud of it, too. So I don’t have any intention of quitting. My colleagues also praise my work attitude, saying that I’m reliable.

However, as I’m so busy with the work, I can take only one day off each week. I need to work on national holidays and all through the year-end and New Year’s period. I tend to get colds more frequently than before. Once I get a cold, I can’t shake it off so quickly. I’ve managed to cope with it each time by taking nonprescription medicines. But I’m concerned about my health, which may deteriorate.

It’s also tough for me that my bosses won’t listen to my request for more days off. They constantly tell me that if I take more days off, our workplace will be shorthanded and that would cause problems.

Honestly, I want to improve myself by taking cultural lessons and learning something enlightening on my days off. I also want to refresh myself by taking trips.

Due to the accumulated mental stress, I quarrel with my friends more often and have begun scratching my skin.

I’m aware some people don’t have jobs although they want to work. So my hopes may be selfish. But I’m almost going crazy from stress. Please advise me.

K, Hokkaido

Dear Ms. K:

It seems your sincere work attitude has been acknowledged by people at your company. You are a happy person as you enjoy doing your work and are proud of it. However, I feel you work a bit too hard.

I think your company exploits your work ethic. If this situation continues without improvement, you will be more frustrated due to excessive fatigue and will ultimately become ill.

Companies are legally required to consider their employees’ health and safety. They are not allowed to overwork their employees until the point of exhaustion. The laws stipulate employees’ work hours should in principle be eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, and workers who have worked continuously for a certain period of time should be guaranteed a certain number of paid vacations.

With these things in mind, why don’t you formally request that the company improves your situation by gaining support from your colleagues? For example, if the company reduces your workload or assigns part of your work on days off to some other employees, you can probably get rid of your stress.

I also suggest you go to a labor consultation center or a similar office in your area beforehand to seek advice on how to handle the issue with your company.

Sachiyo Dohi, lawyer

(from June 25, 2015, issue)Speech

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