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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 25 - 31  > Ban on unequal treatment of regular and non-regular workers to be enforced
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2020 March 25 - 31 [LABOR]

Ban on unequal treatment of regular and non-regular workers to be enforced

March 31, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

“Unreasonable disparities” in treatment between regular and non-regular workers will be banned from April 1 with a grace period for small- and medium-sized enterprises until April 1, 2021.

Government statistics show that non-regular workers earn 40% less than regular workers on average. In a survey of companies that hire both regular and part-time workers which the Labor Ministry in 2016 conducted, the percentages of respondents which offer seasonal bonuses and periodic pay raises to regular employees stood at 84.6% and 71.8% respectively. On the other hand, when it came to non-regular workers, the percentages were 33.7% and 32.3%. The continuation of discriminatory treatment of non-regular workers is unacceptable.

The above-mentioned ban stipulates that unreasonable disparities of treatment between regular and non-regular workers are not allowed. The Labor Ministry’s guidelines on the implementation of the regulation note that if two workers do the same work, the two workers should receive the same basic pay based on their experience, job performance, and seniority. It is essential that their experience, skills, and job performance are assessed fairly.

Regarding seasonal bonuses that are assessed according to each worker’s “contribution” to the company, the guidelines state that workers who made the same level of contribution should be awarded the same amount of bonus regardless of their employment status. The calculation of bonus amounts should be free from arbitrary or unfair assessment. When providing commuting allowances, overtime pay, and other fringe benefits to workers, employers are required to use the same criteria for both regular and non-regular workers.

However, real wage gaps between regular and non-regular workers are often overlooked. There is a grey area between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” gaps. It will be a court of law that will eventually decide whether a particular treatment is reasonable or not. The regulation lacks a consideration of gender equality as well as penal provisions for violations. Workers should ask their employer for an explanation about gaps in treatment and employers are prohibited from putting these workers in a disadvantageous position in retaliation for the demand for explanation. It is necessary for workers and unions to make efforts to win equal treatment at a greater level than required by the law through collective bargaining.
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