• Kyodo

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Japan’s top court ruled Tuesday in favor of an employer paying no bonus to an employee on a short-term contract with an hourly wage, saying different treatment from regular employees was not unreasonable.

The Supreme Court’s No. 3 Petty Bench, presided over by Justice Yuko Miyazaki, overturned a high court ruling that ordered Osaka Medical College to pay the female former employee some ¥1.09 million.

The top court’s ruling comes amid a continuing rise in the population of nonregular workers in Japan. The government has set a policy of equal pay for equal work, but critics say it is unclear to what extent it prevents different treatment of nonregular and regular workers.

Many regular workers with indefinite-term contracts are paid bonuses twice a year.

The woman, hired by the medical college in Osaka Prefecture in January 2013 under a one-year renewable contract on an hourly wage, worked almost full time doing clerical work such as managing the schedules of teachers, according to the district and high court rulings.

She filed the lawsuit in 2015 arguing it is unreasonable that she received no bonus despite doing almost the same work as regular employees. Her contract was not renewed in 2016.

In January 2018, the Osaka District Court ruled against her, but the decision was overturned in February last year by the Osaka High Court, which judged that bonuses for per-hour jobs should be no less than 60 percent of those paid to regular workers.

Both the woman and the college had appealed the high court ruling with the top court.

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