Minister for Promoting the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens Katsunobu Kato indicated during a NHK TV program on Aug. 28 that with regard to labor reform, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe designated as the “greatest challenge” of his reshuffled cabinet, he is contemplating legislation to cap overtime work, including imposing harsher penalties on violations. He said that he intends to come up with concrete policies at the government’s “labor reform realization conference” to be launched next month.
The Labor Standards Law stipulates an eight-hour workday, or a total of 40 working hours per week. However, in practice, overtime work is allowed without any limit as long as labor and management sign an agreement. Kato stated, “There is criticism that there is effectively no limit (to overtime work), so we would like to discuss this seriously.” He indicated that the government will provide assistance to companies working to rectify practices relating to overtime work.
Meanwhile, in light of amendments to the Labor Standards Law, including the creation of a compensation system not based on working hours for high-income professionals, being carried over from the previous Diet session, Kato explained that these two matters are not contradictory and the new government council will discuss remedies for long working hours along with the Labor Standards Law amendment bill.