Government plans to again increase employment insurance

The Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Labor has completed a plan to increase employment insurance premiums rate by 0.2 percent point to 1.6 percent from next year.

The labor policy commission, an advisory panel, will submit a final report based on this plan to the labor minister next January, which will then be put to parliamentary discussion.

The insurance system that supports unemployment benefit payments has been adversely revised through increasing the premium rate from 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent in April 2001; and to 1.4 percent in October 2002.

The ministry in October put forward a new plan to cut unemployment benefits starting next year. Workers will be asked to pay more (300 billion yen or 2.5 billion dollars a year), but will receive less if the proposed changes are approved by the Diet.

The Koizumi Cabinet has been arguing that the government restructuring policy will not mean shifting burdens onto the workers because of an ensured "safety net." The ongoing labor policy, however, reveals that what Koizumi says is just empty sloganeering, said Akahata on November 6.

The employment insurance premiums are paid by the employer and the employees on equal terms. Especially for employers of smaller businesses, this policy will mean a heavy burden amidst the current economic recession. (end)