The Diet passed a bill Wednesday to amend the Workers Dispatch Law, aiming to improve the working conditions of temporary employees.
The revision forbids dispatch agencies from contracting temporary workers for 30 days or less. Also, employers will be urged to give temp workers the same pay as regular employees if they’re doing the same work.
But the revision will not fully protect nonregular workers. The Democratic Party of Japan’s plan to ban temporary workers from being dispatched to the manufacturing sector was scrapped under pressure from the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.
The DPJ submitted a bill in April 2010 that included a ban on sending nonregular workers to factories after thousands of temps were laid off and left homeless when the slump hit in 2008.
The ban was featured in the party’s platform for the 2009 election.
However, the DPJ failed for two years to get its bill passed because of the opposition control of the Upper House, and it had to make concessions to pass other priority bills.
The dispatch law, which regulates the treatment of temporary workers, was loosened to employers’ advantage when the LDP was still in power.
In 1999, it was revised to allow temporary workers to work in almost all industries except for manufacturing and health care. In 2003, it was amended to let temps work in the manufacturing industry.
These changes allowed manufacturers to lay off temp workers easily when the global financial crunch hit in 2008, and many became jobless and homeless, especially those who had been provided with company housing.
Business circles were against the ban, saying replacing temps with regular workers would be too costly because companies would face added insurance and retirement costs.