The steady increase in low-wage, part-time workers and those in temporary jobs is contributing to the low birthrate as people become reluctant to marry because of financial insecurity, according to a government report on the labor market released Tuesday.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s annual white paper acknowledges for the first time that the changing employment system is behind the widening income gap.
The report cites a poll showing 59 percent of men in their early 30s who are on regular payrolls are married, compared with only 30 percent of their counterparts with part-time or temporary jobs.
It is possible that people not on regular payrolls are hesitant to wed because their income is relatively low, the paper says.
Besides, those people tend to have fewer opportunities than regular workers to receive job training at their workplaces to improve their skills. There is also a greater tendency for them to change jobs than regular workers, it adds.
The report says Japanese firms have changed their employment systems to hire more nonregular workers, to give themselves more freedom to adjust their operations and cut personnel costs and thereby help them recover their competitive edge in the global business environment.
But the change in the employment system has created an income gap between regular and nonregular workers, and this gap will become bigger unless companies give nonregular employees more opportunities to become regular workers.
The public and private sectors should together create new systems, including introducing a regular employment system with shorter work hours and providing more training programs for nonregular workers, the paper says.
It notes that more employers have introduced merit-oriented pay systems, which have caused widening gaps in income among workers with regular jobs, particularly those in their 30s and 40s.
Because the system provides those who change jobs in midcareer more opportunities to be evaluated according to their ability, the paper says, “merit-oriented systems are functioning” in general.
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