A government panel proposed Friday that overtime work for teachers in public schools be capped, in principle, at 45 hours per month and 360 hours per year.

The proposal was part of a report on public school teachers’ work-style reforms compiled by the Central Council for Education.

The panel submitted the report to education minister Masahiko Shibayama.

Municipal ordinances require teachers to work seven hours and 45 minutes a day.

Based on the notion that teachers do the work on a voluntary basis, however, there have been no standards set for teachers’ overtime work.

Teachers also do not receive overtime pay, in principle. Instead, they uniformly get 4 percent over base pay for overtime.

“A growing perception that schools do not need to manage teachers’ working hours has led to the current situation where teachers work long hours,” the panel said in the report.

It sought the implementation of specific measures to reduce teachers’ working hours based on the proposed ceilings on overtime.

The education ministry will ask each municipality to use the proposed overtime caps as a reference to set rules on maximum working hours for teachers. It will aim to have the caps imposed from fiscal 2020.

In addition, the ministry will consider placing the upper limits by decree so as to make sure they are observed.

Also in the report, the panel requested the introduction of a variable work hour system for public school teachers.

The system is expected to allow teachers to work long hours during busy periods while taking more days off during their students’ summer break, for example.

Based on the request, the ministry plans to submit a related bill to the Diet by the end of this year at the earliest, with the aim of introducing variable work hours for teachers in fiscal 2021.

“This is just the beginning of work-style reforms at schools,” Shibayama said, adding that he will head a reform task force set to be established at the ministry.

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