03/13/2014 12:51 EDT | Updated 05/13/2014 05:59 EDT

China pollution is so bad Panasonic pays extra for work there

Japanese electronic conglomerate Panasonic will pay its employees in China more money as compensation for having to work in the country's noxious, polluted air.

Tokyo-based Panasonic outlined the plan on Thursday, saying it will compensate its workers in China for what it calls the "PM2.5 problem."

That refers to tiny air particles that are found in polluted air that have been linked to cancer and various other life-shortening diseases. The level of PM2.5 in the air in various Chinese cities has been documented at more than 400 parts per million. The World Health Organization says a reading above 25 ppm is dangerous to human health, which means China is sometimes 16 times above that threshold.

The company says the offer is available to union members that have been relocated to China, not locally hired staff. The company didn't reveal how much extra it will pay applicable employees, nor did it reveal how many workers could get compensation.

Panasonic employs about 70,000 people in China. The payments will begin next month. 

The plan is part of a larger protocol to increase salaries across the board. Panasonic and other Japanese companies have faced pressure from the Japanese government to raise salaries for employees, because they have largely been frozen since the recession that began in 2008.

Panasonic says it is increasing its internal minimum wage by 2,000 yen a month — about $21 Canadian.