National

Most nonregular workers ignorant of new labor rule allowing for indefinite employment: survey

Kyodo

Most nonregular workers are unaware of a new rule that enables them to work until mandatory retirement age after spending five years at the same company, an online survey has shown.

The rule, included in the revised labor contract law that was enacted in April 2013, thus appears to be unknown by many of the people who stand to be most affected by it. The rule takes effect next April, and one must still apply for the employment status to get it.

Nonregular workers comprise around 40 percent of Japan’s workforce, and the purpose of the rule is to give them more job security. But it remains unclear whether wages would rise because the rule says nothing about what happens to pay or benefits after the long-term employment status is acquired.

The rule is also viewed with some apprehension by businesses, particularly small ones, because it will make it difficult for them to adjust their payrolls as they see fit. Currently, they can easily adjust their staffing numbers by not renewing the contracts of nonregular employees.

The results of the survey released Friday by classified ad firm Aidem Inc. found that 58.6 percent of nonregular workers surveyed “do not know the rule” and 27.1 percent said they “do not understand its content well.” Just 14.3 percent said they “understand its content.”

The survey was conducted in March on 679 nonregular workers, including part-timers and contract employees, who had been employed at a single company for more than six months, and on 554 managers at companies with over 30 employees.

Among the managers, 71.7 percent said they understood the rule and 21.5 percent said they did not. The remainder said they were unaware of it.

Nearly half, or 48.2 percent, of managers have informed their nonregular workers of the rule and 38.6 percent said they were going to, while 13.2 percent said they had no plans to do so, according to the survey.

“It is important for companies to make efforts to let their employees know (the rule). But workers themselves have to collect information aggressively because they won’t be able to exercise their right unless they apply for it,” an Aidem official said.