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Japan – Government panel recommends relaxing dispatch regulations

30 January 2014

The Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry yesterday recommended that the regulations on temporary workers (known locally as dispatch workers) be relaxed to allow employers to offer the same temporary positions for more than three years, reports globalpost.com.

A bill to revise the Worker Dispatching Act, will be submitted to the current session of the Diet for enactment in April 2015.

The current regulations ban employers from keeping a temporary worker in the same position for more than three years, so as to prevent replacing permanent employees with temporary staff. The only exceptions to the current regulations are for specific occupations; such as translators and personal secretaries.

At present, after hiring temporary workers for three years, employers need to either hire them on a permanent basis or eliminate the temporary position.

If passed, the revised law will allow companies to keep offering the same temporary positions indefinitely, as long as they are filled by different people every three years.

Under the proposal, employers will be required to consult labour unions before replacing a temporary workers with another for the same position, even though labour unions have no power to reject employers’ decisions.   

The recommendation also calls for the introduction of a licensing system for recruitment agencies. At present, agencies dispatching temporary staff to certain industries are allowed to operate without government permits.

The worker dispatching law came into force in 1986, limiting the use of temporary employment for professions that require higher levels of expertise. The limit was mostly removed in 1999 and was further relaxed in 2004, in order to allow the manufacturing industry to hire temporary staff. 

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