Diet OKs bill to remove temp workers’ term limit amid controversy


The Diet on Friday approved a controversial bill that will allow companies to use temp staff indefinitely if they switch them every three years, defying criticism that it will confine workers to unstable jobs throughout their careers.

The bill to amend the worker dispatch law, seen as the key first step in labor market deregulation under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy, has sparked an outcry from the opposition and labor unions that maintain the removal of a term limit will worsen conditions for temp workers. There were over 1.2 million such workers across the country as of June last year.

The legislation, which cleared the Diet with support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally, Komeito, will take effect on Sept. 30.

Labor minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said the legislation was “intended to increase the possibility for those wishing to become regular workers and improve working conditions for those planning to work as temp staff.”

The previous worker dispatch law banned firms from using temp workers for a period exceeding three years, with the exception of professions requiring expertise such as interpreters and secretaries.

The revised law removes those exceptions and allows companies to continue to tap temporary labor for the same position, on condition that different individuals are hired every three years to fill the post and that labor union opinions at the companies are taken into account.

To secure some stability in employment, the new law mandates that staffing agencies request companies that accept temp workers hire them directly after three years of employment.

If the firms refuse, the agencies must hire the workers themselves or introduce them to other firms to which they can be dispatched.

The companies using the temp workers must also provide information on vacancies for permanent positions under the law.

The revised law also requires staffing agencies to obtain government permission for operations to help ensure their quality and strengthen supervision of the industry.

The bill was initially brought before the Diet last year but was scrapped twice, once due to an erroneous description of penalties and another due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

In an online survey conducted by a group advocating nonregular workers’ rights, many temp staff expressed anger Friday over the law’s amendment, posting such comments as, “The new scheme is convenient for companies. Will it care about workers’ lives?” and “Stop treating us like toys.”

An interpreter in her 30s said, “It is very stressful to work without a prospect” of future employment, while another woman in her 30s said, “An LDP member said it would be easy for personnel with excellent skills to be hired as regular workers, but it will not be possible. Companies use temp workers just to cut costs.”

  • tisho

    They know that otherwise those people that are getting hired on these part time jobs will not get hired at all, thus will increase the unemployment and decrease tax revenue. The only jobs that are being created in Japan right now are the part time jobs. You think people would not rather have a stable full time job at a company if they could? They are taking these part time jobs because they have no better alternative.

    • YashZion

      i can not see how the new law could “increase the unemployment” as you said, or i misunderstood what you said?

      company need people to work, they either have to hire full time or part time anyway. now that the law will force either company or dispatch company to hire the part time as a full time after 3 years or must find them a new job in a new place rather than just stop their contract and kick them out. i see it as an improvement for the part timer.

      • tisho

        I did not say this law will increase unemployment, i said they passed this law because they know otherwise the unemployment will increase. If they don’t allow companies to use part time workers indefinitely, then they will not use them at all, and these people will have no job, they will just go directly to the welfare benefits program. Japan does not have a real economic growth right now, the economy is not growing, it is shrinking, more and more people going to part time jobs, the population is aging rapidly, the labor force is decreasing, the retired people aka not working people are increasing, if they don’t take necessary measures now to prevent further deterioration, in several years from now, the situation will be very ugly. Eyes should be focused on labor force, not population increase/decrease.

      • YashZion

        then i guess i miss understood your comment at first. sorry about that.

      • tisho

        Exactly, and because it becomes expensive and time consuming to do all that unnecessary work, i assume two things will happen. One is, the illegal hiring will increase, aka the gray economy will increase, which means less tax collection from the government. And second, companies will be more reluctant to hire, they will either outsource their work or automate as much as they can. No company would ever agree to this, of course, but they have no choice. Companies would rather have full time employee rather than having to train a new one as you said, what stands in the way is the government making it more difficult to hire new people and be productive and flexible. Abe wants to fix the problem with labor shortage by adding more women into the labor force, but his means are incorrect and will lead to a bad result. He does not understand the fundamental problem of why there are so few women in the labor force. Instead of making it more easy for companies to get the labor they need, he wants to force them to hire women. It’s never going to work, and will only lead to companies either moving abroad where they have the freedom to get the labor they need, or companies decrease their productivity, eventually less people will be employed and certainly less women. What he needs to do is extremely simple. Simply remove government imposed restrictions upon companies and businesses, and allow the business to supply itself with the needed labor from within or outside the country. That would increase productivity and with productivity the wages as well, but most importantly will bring the needed labor force and fix the labor shortage problem.

      • YashZion

        seem like Abe just want more vote number from women but he end up screw things up. lol

  • kyushuphil

    Japanese schools clearly must do more to desensitize all.

    The international corporations, themselves successfully steroided in amorality, require easier laws in Japan so they can make more mega profits. They’ll need more people to view themselves and others not as people, but as economic units for others to exploit.

    Thus schools, which have done a good job of gutting individual essay writing, need to do more to diminish everyone’s awareness of human dimensions.

    Schools surely can find a way to stress more mindless group activities, more call-&-response or other roboticized regimentation, more intensity of cramming really trivialized info for high-stakes national testing.

    Minae Mizumura, in “The Fall of Language in the Age of English,” has noted no one in Japanese schools is anymore asked to read any novel from front to back. Everyone understands that what’s left is more trivial, short snippets totally out of any meaningful context.

    And that’s good — when TPP gets here, the international corporations will need more sheep, more souls unacquainted with older Japanese culture, ignorant of books, readily available instead to the charms of consumerism.

    If we can just complete the job, eliminate all the humanities from the schools, we can so distort anyone’s sense of humanity that the Japanese Diet may happily do the will of the happy, happy corporate predators.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    I nominate this Bill for Double-Speak Of The Year.

  • Demoncat

    I am confused why this is controversial? The law basically states if you have an employee longer than 3 years you must direct hire them or re-position them in another job; isn’t this good for the people? Why are people upset with the law?