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Updated on September 7, 2016

Helping Employees Stay Healthy

Sony's Health Management System

Sony aims to create a workplace environment that is enjoyable and dynamic for all employees, recognizing that this is vital for both the business and the people who drive it. To promote such an environment, it is vital to maintain conditions that enable each employee to work with a sound body and mind far into the future.

In cooperation with Sony Group companies, Sony Corporation's occupational health department carries out a wide range of activities aimed at promoting the health of employees worldwide. These include offering regular health counseling sessions, posting health information on the Internet, and encouraging daily exercise.

Measures to prevent lifestyle diseases, limit excessive overtime, and promote mental health have become more important than ever in recent years, as work becomes more complex, evolves with organizational changes, and features an increasingly diverse array of tasks. To address these challenges, Sony offers occupational health counseling to employees who work long hours, depending on their individual circumstances, and provides key workplace managers with training designed to prevent mental illness and quickly identify signs of mental health problems. Sony has also established in-house and outsourced physical and mental health counseling services for employees so that they can discuss any type of concern or problem, include work-related issues, with professionals in a relevant field.

Promoting Mental Health

Along with its activities to promote employees' health and manage related risks, Sony implements comprehensive mental health support measures with the aim of helping employees demonstrate their full potential. Sony makes its health counseling services known to employees via email and its internal website, offering them access to counseling in face-to-face sessions or by telephone or email. Employees can receive health counseling from Sony's staff of professionals, seek guidance from managers and human resources personnel, as well as obtain referrals to medical specialists and related information when needed.

Sony provides a mental health training program for various levels of employees and management, including new employees, newly promoted section chiefs, and general managers. In addition, all employees receive training on personal healthcare. The Group has already introduced the Stress Check System, which was required by a law enforced in December 2015. Sony's human resources department and occupational health department, for example, will work together to provide the support for stress management when necessary, utilizing the results of workplace stress checks and various other methods.

In addition, Sony has put a program in place to help employees return to work after taking a leave of absence. In cooperation with an outsourced employee assistance program, Sony offers such employees assistance with readapting to the workplace according to their individual circumstances. Sony also has a mental health program for helping employees cope with unforeseen accidents or disasters, such as a major earthquake. Implemented whenever necessary, the program provides such employees and their families with the assistance they need.

Preventing Overwork

As part of its efforts to ensure that overtime work does not negatively affect the health of employees, Sony has been implementing a health consultation program for employees who work long hours since April 2004. This initiative followed a report issued in 2001 by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on criteria for determining cerebrovascular disease and ischemic heart disease, which indicated a relationship between overtime work and health problems. The ministry then issued comprehensive guidelines for preventing health problems caused by excessive work in February 2002, and the guidelines were incorporated into law in April 2006. Accordingly, companies in Japan have taken measures to comply with the law. In addition, on the basis of Japan's Act on the Promotion of Measures to Prevent Death from Overwork, etc., which entered into force in November 2014, Japan's Cabinet adopted the Framework on Measures to Prevent Death from Overwork, etc. on July 24, 2015. These and other measures have added a note of extra urgency, regarding the need to take stronger steps to address the problem of prolonged work.

Against this backdrop, Sony has been providing counseling to employees who regularly work overtime and conducting surveys to determine their stress levels.

Preventing Lifestyle Diseases and Promoting Good Health

Preventing lifestyle diseases caused by irregular eating habits, lack of exercise, and other factors is a major challenge for employees working at companies. Sony makes sure that employees undergo various types of medical checkups in accordance with relevant laws in Japan, and then receive personal health advice based on the checkup results, as well as support for visiting specialists at medical institutions if needed. Sony also focuses on counseling and advice on dealing with metabolic syndrome, per Japan's mandated health guidance system.

Helping Employees Quit Smoking

Sony actively promotes campaigns for encouraging employees group-wide to give up smoking. Sony limits smoking at worksites to designated areas, and has been gradually reducing the number of smoking rooms, removing cigarette vending machines, and prohibiting the sale of cigarettes on its premises. Meanwhile, Sony encourages its occupational health staff to speak specifically with employees about quitting when giving health guidance. These initiatives have led to a steady decline in the employee smoking rate, which has fallen below 14% at Sony Corporation.

Responding to Infectious Diseases

With today's increasing globalization, it is becoming easier than ever for infectious diseases to spread. In recognition of these circumstances, Sony asks its employees to receive vaccinations when necessary if they work in or travel on business to countries at risk. Sony provides safety bulletins and information on infectious diseases on its website for employees taking business trips to keep them aware of risks, and limits business travel as a safety precaution depending on the circumstances. In Japan, if there is an outbreak of a new strain of influenza, tuberculosis, or other illness, Sony cooperates with the government and sets up emergency response teams at each of its divisions in order to respond flexibly while staying ready to implement business continuity plans.

Health Management for Employees Transferred Overseas

At present, Sony employees and their family members from Japan are stationed in 38 countries worldwide. This is why Sony has established a health management system that ensures that staff transferred abroad or traveling on business can work in safety and good health when they change workplaces. Under the system, these employees and their family members receive medical checkups before leaving Japan, after returning to Japan, and when visiting Japan each year. Sony has set specific items for health checkups for staff transferred abroad, which are more thorough and comprehensive than legally mandated standards. Like employees in Japan, employees transferred abroad receive follow-up support after medical examinations as a means for helping maintain their health on a regular basis. They also take healthcare training before traveling abroad, receive vaccinations, and are provided with information on medical facilities in the areas where they will work if they require ongoing medical treatment. Sony has put measures in place for raising awareness of personal health management, including preventative medicine and risk assessments.
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