Photo/IllutrationEquipment for proton beam therapy (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Suntory Holdings Ltd. plans to begin covering part of its employees’ advanced cancer treatment expenses from fiscal 2018 by tapping into overtime pay saved under a government-led campaign to reform working styles.

Employees of the beverages giant undergoing treatments not covered by health insurance policies, such as heavy particle beam therapy and proton beam therapy, will be eligible for up to 5 million yen ($47,300) in medical care subsidies via an in-house mutual aid society.

Amid an ongoing drive to rectify the practice of working long hours, compensating workers for their lost overtime pay has emerged as an issue for this year's annual spring labor offensive.

Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the nation’s largest business group, is advising its member companies that the overtime allowances saved through work style reforms should be used for the benefit of their employees.

Suntory also plans to spend part of the saved overtime on supporting treatments that help people quit smoking.

A quarter of Suntory’s employees smoke. Starting from fiscal 2018, which begins in April, they will be eligible for up to 10,000 yen in subsidies covering half their treatment fees if they have taken smoking cessation outpatient services and successfully quit smoking.

Another part of the saved overtime will be spent on strengthening a mechanism for analyzing health check reports and outpatient care records of employees to help promote their health. It will be used to shore up a framework under which public health nurses approach employees with risks of lifestyle-related illnesses and advise them to improve their dietary habits and lifestyles, company officials said.