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Municipal and prefectural governments across the country plan to adopt their own measures to promote labor reforms for their employees, such as by consigning operations to the private sector to cut overtime and introducing flexible working hours.

Starting in November, the Kobe Municipal Government will allow employees who take care of children or elderly family members to work flexible hours, with the aim of reducing their burdens and preventing them from quitting.

Instead of working from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day with a lunch break, employees will have to be at work between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and set flexible hours before or after those times.

Kobe will be the first ordinance-designated major city to fully introduce the system.

“We aim to create a working environment that is friendly to employees and improve our services for citizens,” a Kobe official said.

The city of Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, has reinforced a staggered shift system adopted in fiscal 2013. Under the expanded system, fully implemented in October, employees are allowed to start working 30 minutes earlier from 7 a.m. The system can be used not only by regular workers but also by temporary and reappointed staff.

The Shiga Prefectural Government has announced a plan to set a special quota in its budget for fiscal 2018 to cover measures to promote work-style reforms and reduce overtime. It plans to take such steps as utilizing technology and outsourcing operations, officials said.

In October, the Miyazaki Prefectural Government set up a satellite office in its main building that allows workers from outpost agencies to finish their work after meetings without returning to their base office.

“Local governments need to promote work-style reforms actively in order to recruit competent workers amid intensifying competition with private firms to secure human resources,” an official of the internal affairs ministry said. “We hope they will make such moves voluntarily.”

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