The proportion of companies where every employee can work until age 65 or beyond if they so wish rose to a record 48.8 percent this year, up 0.9 percentage point from 2011, the labor ministry announced.
The highest level since the survey began in 2006 was attributed to moves by short-staffed small businesses to employ older workers, according to a report compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
However, only 24.3 percent of companies with 301 employees or more are ensuring the employment of workers aged 65 or above, a 0.5 point year-on-year increase, the report showed.
The report was based on data from around 140,000 companies employing at least 31 workers as of June 1.
Large firms will have to promptly take all necessary steps since revised legislation enacted earlier this year obliges them to let their employees continue working up to 65 years of age or older. The law was revised in view of planned changes to the public pension system, which will see the state pension eligibility age gradually raised from 60 to 65, beginning next April.
At present, the ministry requires businesses to introduce at least one measure to secure the employment for anyone wishing to work until age 65, including rehiring workers who reach the current retirement age. But the system still allows companies to select eligible workers based on labor-management negotiations.
The poll also found that 73.6 percent of 430,036 workers who reached retirement age in the past year were rehired. Only 1.6 percent of those hoping to be re-employed were not, while 24.8 percent opted to retire.