The Japanese government plans to allow bureaucrats to work remotely in principle if they wish to do so, according to an outline of guidelines to be issued by the end of next month.

Remote work has spread during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there have been no clear rules for bureaucrats. The government will release the guidelines on remote work as part of an effort to encourage more diverse ways of working among its employees.

The guidelines say that bureaucrats are allowed to work remotely if they want to unless government operations are affected, according to the outline.

Workers engaging in over-the-counter services and those working in shifts will not be allowed to work remotely. Newcomers who need to have face-to-face interactions for the time being will also have to commute to the office.

Those who work remotely will be asked to leave their children and dependents in the hands of caregivers to ensure that they focus on their duties.

Those in managerial positions will be asked to prevent their subordinates from working long hours from home as remote work tends to make it hard to draw a line between work and daily life.

About 2.89 million bureaucrats worked from home in fiscal 2020 during the pandemic, up some twentyfold from the previous year, according to a survey by the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs.

A panel of experts at the National Personnel Authority has been calling on the government to provide clear criteria on remote work.