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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 September 6 - 12  > Labor ministry’s panel begins discussing relaxation of working hour rules
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2017 September 6 - 12 [LABOR]

Labor ministry’s panel begins discussing relaxation of working hour rules

September 9, 2017
The Labor Ministry on September 8 requested its Labor Policy Council to begin discussing a package of draft bills regarding the revision of labor rules which includes a bill to set an upper limit on overtime at 100 hours a month, the current official danger line for overwork-induced deaths (karoshi).

The package of draft bills is designed to promote PM Abe’s work-style reform policies. The package consists of eight bills, including bills to revise the Labor Standards Act and Part-Time Employment Act. The Abe Cabinet aims to introduce the set of bills to an extraordinary session of the Diet slated to open in a fortnight.

Under the draft for the revision of the Labor Standards Act, overtime hours will be capped at less than 100 hours a month or an average of 80 hours over a period of two to six months. At present, however, 100 hour of overtime a month is used as the yardstick for the official recognition of karoshi.

In addition, the draft incorporates amendments imposing overtime without pay on workers.

One of the amendments is to create a system to exclude workers earning high income whose jobs require professional knowledge and skills from working hour limination rules. This system has been criticized by unions and opposition parties as a “zero-overtime payment” system. Another is to increase the number of job categories subject to the discretionary work system under which employers are allowed to pay wages for the previously agreed-upon working hours and not for the actual hours of work.

These two amendments to labor regulations have been proposed to the Diet several times but never been discussed due to fierce public criticism for enabling employers to use workers as long as they want without pay.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t seeks to set overtime at 720 hours a year, two times longer than current limit [February 16, 2017]
> 4 opposition parties jointly submit a bill to regulate working hours [ April 20, 2016]
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