BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER
More companies across Japan are introducing arrangements designed to let their employees take paid time off to receive COVID-19 vaccines and deal with any potential side-effects.
The idea had been floated by Taro Kono, the minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine rollout. Kono originally voiced a willingness in March to seek the business community’s approval of the concept, and in his meeting last week with Tetsuro Tomita, vice president of Keidanren, Japan’s biggest business lobby, the minister reportedly doubled down on his calls for the implementation of paid vaccine leave.
Jabs are still unavailable for the bulk of the working population in Japan, with the rollout limited to health care workers and people over 65 years old for the time being.
Still, some companies are already taking steps to lay the groundwork for the swift inoculation of their employees, creating systems that will enable them to take paid hours or days off outside of annual paid leave.
Among them is Mitsubishi Electric Corp., which said all of its employees, including full-time workers, part-timers and contract workers, will be eligible to take one paid day off per shot.
The idea is to ensure that employees can avoid getting shots on the weekend — when demand for vaccinations is likely to soar — and being exposed to crowds, the company said in a statement.
Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co., too, has ushered in the vaccine leave system, which is applicable not only when employees get vaccinated but also covers time off in the event of side-effects such as fever, said spokesman Makoto Kuranaga.
“If our employees want to get vaccinated, it’s better they do so sooner than later,” he said.
Other firms that have adopted a similar framework include Yahoo Japan, SoftBank and e-commerce giant Mercari Inc.
At Mercari, employees including contract workers and interns can take days off not only to get jabs for themselves, but to look after their family members or partners who might need their help visiting doctors or dealing with side-effects.
In a statement, Yahoo Japan said the vaccine leave is meant to “create an environment where our employees who wish to be vaccinated can do so smoothly and safely,” while also seeking to prevent them from catching the virus and giving it to others.