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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 October 14 - 20  > Only 4% of budget for support program paid to coronavirus-hit workers
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2020 October 14 - 20 [POLITICS]

Only 4% of budget for support program paid to coronavirus-hit workers

October 15, 2020
A government financial support program for pandemic-hit workers is very slow to be implemented, as shown by the fact that less than 4% of allocated funds has been spent so far. The Japanese Communist Party and other opposition parties call on the program to be more accessible.

The program is designed to provide monetary support to workers in small- and medium-sized enterprises who have been ordered by their employers to take leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic without leave allowance. Under the program, workers can receive 80% of what they earned before the leave (up to 11,000 yen a day). The government in July started to accept applications for the cash benefit.

Lawmakers of the opposition parties on October 14 jointly held a hearing with government officials on how the program is being implemented. In the hearing session, they also interviewed workers having difficulties with applying for the program.

According to the officials, as of October 8, the government paid 3.8% of the earmarked 544.2 billion yen to pandemic-affected workers. Of 511,000 applications submitted, 300,000 or 58% were approved by October 13.

The hearing was joined via phone by a female part-timer in her 30s at an event management company. The worker said that she has earned almost nothing since May. When she requested her employer to fill in an application form for the government program, the employer rejected her request by saying that the company did not instruct her to take leave.

The opposition party lawmakers pointed out that this is not a rare case. Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Dietmember Shiomura Ayaka demanded that the program procedures be improved so that workers will be able to apply for the benefit payment without having to ask their employers for cooperation.

A male worker, who worked at a major event company as a non-regular worker, also spoke at the hearing on the phone. He has no income since late March and eventually left the company. The worker is not eligible for the government program as his former company is categorized as a large company. He said, “I repeatedly requested the company to pay the leave allowance but in vain, just to be told that it does not provide leave allowances to non-regular workers. I want the government to improve the support program as early as possible so that I can apply for it.”

JCP lawmaker Takahashi Chizuko said, “Even in large companies, many non-regular workers are in trouble. They deserve government support.”

Past related article:
> Union and JCP efforts lead to extension of COVID-19 grants to small firm workers [September 27, 2020]
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