National

Regulations regarding employment of disabled workers to be strengthened

Kyodo

The government has decided to toughen regulations for the employment of disabled workers after ministries and agencies were found to have inflated their employment figures to meet legal quotas, sources close to the matter said Sunday.

A bill to be submitted to the Diet next year to revise a law promoting the employment of disabled people will oblige government institutions to notify labor authorities when terminating the employment of disabled personnel to prevent unfair dismissals, according the sources.

The labor ministry will be allowed to conduct on-site inspections at ministries and local governments, while the bill will also require public institutions to retain documents such as photocopies of disability certificates, which will be reviewed during inspections.

Under the current law, only private businesses can be inspected by the ministry and are obliged to notify job-placement offices when dismissing disabled workers.

A panel of lawyers and other experts concluded in a report in October that the government padded employment data by counting retired or even dead people to meet the quotas.

The current law requires public institutions to meet quotas of 2.5 percent, while 2.2 percent is set for the private sector.

As of June last year, the government said the proportion of people with disabilities in national office workforces actually stood at 1.17 percent, instead of its previously announced 2.50 percent.

Annual employment data for ministries and local governments are currently counted and released by the labor ministry, but each institution will be in charge of doing so to hold them accountable after the envisioned legal revision, the sources said.

Private companies are seen as reluctant to hire disabled people working for only a few hours as employees working less than 20 hours per week are not counted in the quotas.

But the government will provide financial support to companies hiring such disabled workers, according to the sources.

Among other measures, counseling staff will need to be recruited to support disabled workers.