Women’s work may go underground

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is considering reviewing the law banning women from working at mines and tunnel construction sites, aiming to expand their labor opportunities, ministry officials said Saturday.

These are the only restrictions on women under the Labor Standard Law, except for some jobs limited under labor rules aimed at protecting the health of pregnant women.

The ministry will compile an experts’ report on the proposal and present it to its relevant advisory body by summer, the officials said.

The government has banned women from being employed at tunnel construction sites and mines since the Labor Standard Law was enforced in 1947.

The law was amended later to allow women to be employed at these places as researchers and medical doctors on condition the work is temporary.

The amendment was in line with rules set under the treaty of the International Labor Organization, which allow females to engage in managerial and health and welfare- related work at mines.

The proposed revision to the labor law would enable women to undertake excavation work at mines as well, the officials said.

Behind the proposal is the fact that the work environment at mines has been improved while much mine work has become mechanized, the officials said.