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A bill to offer relief to temporary workers cleared the House of Representatives on Thursday and is likely to become law before March 31, the end of fiscal 2008 and a day on which a large number of workers are expected to lose their jobs.

The bill was passed by the Lower House and is expected to be passed by the opposition-controlled Upper House because both camps agreed Tuesday to revise it to reflect the opposition camp’s demand that government relief be made available to those rendered jobless as of March 31, instead of April 1.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party, argued that moving up the implementation date by just one day will allow the relief program to help about an additional 100,000 people.

The rare compromise was reached at a time when the nation is mired in a severe recession and labor conditions are predicted to worsen.

The bill to revise the employment insurance act will also allow laid-off workers to claim unemployment benefits if they have paid a minimum of six months of job insurance premiums, instead of 12 months. The revision bill also says the duration in which the unemployed receive the insurance will be extended by as much as 60 days.

It also proposes cutting the size of the insurance premium from 1.2 percent of salary to 0.8 percent in fiscal 2009. For nonregular workers, the bill will allow those expected to continue working for six months, instead of a year, to be eligible for insurance, the revised bill stipulates.

Contracts for thousands of temporary workers, especially those employed in the manufacturing industry, are set to expire on the last day of the fiscal year, because many companies started employing temps in 2006 under the stipulation that they can only work at the same company for up to three years.

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