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Labor minister Norihisa Tamura suggested Sunday that the government may make retroactive benefit payment to nonregular workers at large companies newly covered by a coronavirus relief program for temporary leave taken in autumn last year or later.

When the labor ministry announced on Friday the expansion of the scope of the benefit program to cover such workers, it said the aid money will be paid for leave taken because of the epidemic on and after Jan. 8, when the ongoing state of emergency over the virus came into effect.

“We’ll take into consideration a series of requests that were made in the run-up to the emergency declaration,” Tamura said in a television program aired by Fuji Television Network. He indicated the government planned to consider the benefit program’s retroactive application in view of hour-shortening and other requests Tokyo and various local governments made to businesses, including eateries, under their own initiatives.

He said the city of Sapporo started making such requests as early as November last year.

With the program’s expansion, shift workers, contract workers and day laborers at large companies are set to be eligible to receive 80% of the wages they earned before taking leave, capped at ¥11,000 per day.

Tamura offered a view that the hour-shortening requests forced many nonregular workers to take leave or work shorter hours.

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