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The Diet enacted employment insurance law amendments Friday to enhance support for nonregular employees, many of whom have lost or are expected to lose their jobs amid the economic deterioration.

Under the amendments to take effect Tuesday, the minimum period employees must pay insurance premiums to become eligible to receive unemployment benefits will be shortened from 12 months to six months.

Nonregular employees who work for more than 20 hours a week will be given access to employment insurance if they expect to remain employed for at least six months, instead of 12 months at present, according to the amendment.

Unemployment benefits will be extended by up to 60 days for those who are dismissed from their job or their contract expires and they have trouble finding new employment.

To encourage job searching, the amendments will also raise benefits for those who manage to find jobs quickly.

The amendment also stipulates that, only for fiscal 2009, which begins next Wednesday, the employment insurance premium as a percentage of wages will be cut to 0.8 percent from the current 1.2 percent.

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