A water company in Japan has issued an apology on television after an employee was found to be taking three-minute breaks to collect lunch.
The 64-year-old worker at the Kobe City Waterworks Bureau had occasionally left his desk to buy a bento box at lunch time from a restaurant across the road, the New York Daily News reports.
A senior worker had spotted the man leaving the building and heading to the business from their office window.
An apology from the company was issued to customers and was aired on television, which said, “It’s immensely regrettable that such a scandal took place, and we wish to express our sincere apologies.”
The man had allegedly spent about 78 minutes away from his desk between September 2017 and March 2018, after making 26 outings to the restaurant.
According to the New York Daily News the 64-year-old said he had taken the trips across the road for a “change of pace”.
As a punishment the employee was also docked a half a day’s pay.
While some social media users labelled the incident “ridiculous”, the country is known for its strict work culture.
Death from overwork is known as “karoshi” in Japan, and is recognised as a cause of death.
Miwa Sado, a reporter for Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, was found dead with her mobile phone in her hand five years ago. The Labor Standards Inspection Office declared her passing as “karoshi”.
It is reported that the 31-year-old had clocked up more than 159 hours of overtime at work in the month until her death, and nearly 147 hours in the month before.
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Ms Sado passed away from congestive heart failure in 2013 but her death was only revealed in 2017.
In 2015 it was reported that on average approximately 22 per cent of Japanese employees work a 50 hours or more every week.