The Daily Manila Shimbun


Japan adopts action plan for work style reform

March 29, 2017

TOKYO- The Japanese government on Tuesday adopted an action plan for its work style reform, including the introduction of an overtime cap of less than 100 hours per month and the promotion of equal pay for equal work.The action plan was approved at a meeting of the government’s Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform.

After a review of the plan by the Labor Policy Council, which advises the labor minister, the government plans to submit a related bill as early as during an expected extraordinary session of the Diet, Japan ‘s parliament, this autumn, with a view to implementing the reform from fiscal 2019.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the action plan “a historic step in work style reform in Japan .” Abe expressed eagerness to submit a related bill at an early time, while unveiling plans to set up a panel to check progress in the implementation of the action plan.

The action plan calls for limiting overtime work to 45 hours per month and 360 hours per year in principle, while exceptionally allowing monthly overtime of less than 100 hours at busy times, with some additional conditions.

These conditions are that overtime should not exceed 80 hours on average in two to six months and 720 hours annually, and that workers will not be allowed to put in monthly overtime in excess of 45 hours for more than six months per year.

Companies will face penalties for violating the overtime rules.

This will be the first time that an overtime limit involving penalties has been introduced in Japan since the labor standards law came into force in 1947.

Separate overtime regulations will be imposed five years later on the transport and construction industries, which are not subject to the planned overtime rules.

Doctors will also be exempted from the overtime rules, at least for the first five years. The government will work to introduce the same rules for doctors after the period.

Pushing for equal pay for equal work, the action plan requires companies to provide explanations on pay disparities between regular and nonregular workers.

The government will develop a legal system to guarantee workers’ right to claim at court for the correction of unreasonable pay gaps.

The action plan said regular and nonregular workers should receive equal amounts of basic salaries and bonuses if they are evaluated as having the same levels of experience, ability and contribution to the business performance of their workplace. Extra pay rates for overtime work as well as for late-night and holiday work should also be the same for the two types of workers, it said.

The action plan also calls for allowing dispatched workers to conclude wage accords with their staffing agencies.

At the meeting, Rikio Kozu, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, said, “The important thing is to establish legislation to ensure that it (the action plan) is workable and to get rid of long work hours.” Jiji Press