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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 14 - 20  > Abe Cabinet approves 3 labor-related bills
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2007 March 14 - 20 [LABOR]

Abe Cabinet approves 3 labor-related bills

March 14, 2007
The Abe Cabinet on March 13 approved three labor bills: (1) to amend the Labor Standards Law to entitle workers to time and a half premiums for overtime work after 80 hours worked in a month, (2) to establish a labor contract ostensibly to define employers and employees as equals, and (3) to revise the Minimum Wage Law.

(1) The stated aim of the bill to amend the Labor Standards Law is to put a brake on excessively long hours of work. But the overtime premiums rate remains unchanged up to 80 hours, making it difficult to achieve the goal (The current law sets the overtime premiums at a time and a quarter or more up to a time and a half). Initially, the government proposed this in conjunction with a bill to introduce the “white-collar exemption” system. But, facing strong opposition from the public, the Abe Cabinet gave up on submitting the bill in the current session of the Diet.

(2) The “Labor Contract” bill provides that employers are not allowed to change the terms of employment by amending the company regulations that the employers impose on workers without employees’ consent. But it leaves room for making such arbitrary changes provided that the changes are considered “justifiable” depending on the extent to which the changes are made. Workers are demanding that this provision be deleted on the grounds that a labor contract law must ensure equal footing between workers and employers.

(3) The bill to revise the Minimum Wage Law includes a provision that the consistency with the amounts of livelihood protection benefits needs to be taken into account in determining the amount of the minimum wage applicable to each region. This may lead to increases in the regional minimum wages which are now too inadequate to cover even the cost of living.
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