Labor Update Bulletin #1 (01/2017)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes that have either passed, or are being discussed, in parliament, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in Japan.

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I. Important Law Enforcement Schedule Ahead

1. Changes to the Labor Contract Act (effective as of April 1st, 2013)

After the fixed-term employment contract has been repeatedly renewed, and the total employment period exceeds 5 years, the contract shall be converted to a permanent one upon request of the employee.

Note : The effects of this change will be felt from April 1st, 2018.


2. New law related to the social insurance system (effective as of October 1st, 2016)

a. Shortening of minimum payment period to be eligible for pension allowance (from 25 years to 10, effective on August 1st, 2017).

b. Easing of requirements for part-time worker's eligibility to be enrolled in social insurance (more than 20 hours work a week if company has more than 500 employees).

c. It is written in the Clause 2, Article 2 of Supplementary Provisions that "the government shall examine and take necessary measures to further ease requirements for part-timers' eligibility to be enrolled in social insurance by September 30th, 2019".


3. Change of law including further easing of requirements for part-timers’ eligibility to be enrolled in social insurance.

Part-timers with more than 20 hours work a week in a workplace with fewer than 501 employees can be enrolled in social insurance upon agreement between the employer and a representative of a majority of employees. (Effective as of April 1st, 2017)

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II. The 193rd Ordinary Session Of The Diet Started On January 20th, 2017 (To Be Closed June 18th, 2017)

As a union, we will pay attention to the bill for the amendment of the Labor Standards Act.

1. Expansion of "Exemption."
Workers included in "Exemption" will be paid a fixed amount of overtime pay regardless of actual working hours.

2. Founding of "Highly Professional System"
Under this "system", there will be no regulation of working hours and no overtime pay for the workers regarded as "highly professional".

The main purpose of this amendment seems to be to provide employers with the freedom to make employees work without restriction.

Most opposition parties are against it, calling the bill the "Zero Overtime-Pay Bill" or "Karoshi (Overwork Death) Promotion Bill".

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III. Information That The General Union Has Discovered

The General Union dug deep into various documents and found good information related to I-1, stated above.

On December 9th and 21th, 2016, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology twice sent emails to national universities, telling them not to dismiss employees who have worked 5 years under a limited-term contract for the purpose of stopping them from converting their employment contract from definite-term to indefinite.

We have these e-mails (although only in Japanese at the moment).

As this change of the Labor Contract Act is not only for national universities but actually applies to ANY employment, we can use this information as a tool for securing job security (in particular: unlimited-term employment contracts).

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Additional information