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Labor ministry asks panel for advice on planned legislation for work style reform

  • September 9, 2017
  • , The Japan News , 07:25 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The labor ministry asked Friday a government panel for advice on a planned bill for work style reforms, including new overtime caps and measures to help realize equal pay for equal work.


The ministry submitted an outline of the bill to the Labor Policy Council, which advises the labor minister. The ministry hopes that the measure will enter into force in April 2019.


The legislation will be introduced to an extraordinary session of the Diet to be convened late this month.


The bill, however, is likely to face a rocky road ahead because it will call for a new system that opposition parties and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, have branded as one aimed at eliminating overtime pay.


The bill will revise eight laws, including those on labor standards and part-time employment. The ministry hopes to amend the law on employment measures to convert it into the basic law for work style reforms.


The ministry plans to revise the labor standards law not only to introduce the new overtime caps but also to expand the discretionary work system and start the controversial system, which would exempt high-income skilled professionals from work-hour regulations.


The white-collar overtime exemption system stipulated in the outline includes all measures requested by Rengo, including a rule to obligate employers to secure at least 104 days off annually for the professionals.


In 2015, a similar bill mainly for white-collar exemption was submitted to the Diet. But no deliberations took place due to objections from opposition parties, causing the ministry to withdraw it.


Elements of the old bill will be included in the planned legislation for work style reforms.


The outline calls for limiting busy-season overtime to less than 100 hours per month and 720 hours per year. Employers who violate overtime rules will be punished.


Under the provisions for equal pay for equal work, unreasonable pay gaps between regular employees and nonregular workers, such as part timers and temporary staff, will be prohibited. Detailed rules will be set after the passage of the bill.


Small and midsize companies will be basically exempted from the application of the provisions for one year from the enforcement of the legislation.

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