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2014年6月14日 (土)

働き方と賃金―長時間労働は許されぬ

June 13, 2014
EDITORIAL: Overtime should be limited even for employees with fat paychecks
働き方と賃金―長時間労働は許されぬ

Even corporate employees with high annual incomes should not be forced to work to the point of injuring their health. This is a basic principle in labor regulations.
 年収が高いからといって、健康を損なうような長時間労働をさせていいはずがない。それが大原則だ。

The government has decided on outlines of a new pay system that allows companies to delink the wages for certain high-paid employees from the number of hours they put in.
The concept of overtime pay will not be applied to employees covered by the new system. A top corporate executive who is a member of the government’s Industrial Competitiveness Council proposed the system, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare agreed to the recommendation.
 働いた時間と関係なく賃金を決める制度の新設が決まった。新制度では、残業代という考え方がなくなる。政府の産業競争力会議で民間議員の経営者が提案し、厚生労働省も同意した。

The special remuneration system can be applied only to employees who earn at least 10 million yen ($98,200) a year and whose job responsibilities are clearly defined, according to the outlines. Details of the system will be worked out, possibly by the end of the year, through discussions at the ministry’s council, which comprises representatives of labor and management.
 対象は、最低でも年収1千万円以上で、職務内容がはっきりしている人。労使が参加する審議会で議論し、年内にも具体的な制度を決める。

The current labor law requires companies to know the accurate work hours of all their employees except for senior executives. This rule can certainly be at odds with the work styles of some white-collar professionals with highly specialized skills.
 今の法律では、上級の管理職をのぞくと、労働時間を厳格に把握することが企業に求められている。高い能力を持つホワイトカラーの働き方にそぐわない面があることは確かだ。

But the process of discussions on the proposal at the Industrial Competitiveness Council contains flaws. The panel does not include labor union leaders among its members. And the purpose and effectiveness of the proposal made by the private-sector member have not been clearly explained.
 しかし、議論の過程には疑問が残る。会議に労働界の代表はおらず、民間議員の提案も目的や効果がはっきりしなかった。

Originally, two different ideas were put forward. One was the adopted system to exempt certain high-paid employees from restrictions on working hours. The other proposal, which was eventually dismissed, called for a cap on work hours.
 最初の提案には二つのタイプがあった。導入が決まった「高収入型」と、見送られた「労働時間上限型」だ。

The latter would have made it possible to set an upper limit on work hours through labor-management negotiations. It was cast as a plan to increase employment opportunities for women, the elderly and young people.
But there were concerns that this system would enable companies to set unilaterally maximum work hours and wages for general workers. Later, the scope of this proposal was limited to “candidates for senior management positions.” But concerns remained that the system could be abused by unscrupulous companies that exploit young workers.
 後者は、労使合意で労働時間の上限を決める方式。女性や高齢者、若者の活用がうたわれたが、一般労働者まで会社が一方的に上限や賃金を決めてしまう恐れがあった。後に対象は「幹部候補」に変わったものの、若者を使いつぶすブラック企業に乱用される不安がぬぐえなかった。

The council did the right thing by rejecting the proposal.
見送りは当然だ。

But are there really no problems with the system to scrap overtime pay for employees with fat paychecks?
 では、「高収入型」には問題はないのだろうか。

One benefit of the new system will be clarification of the job responsibilities of the employees covered. However, there is no good reason to buy the claim that the abolition of overtime pay will solve the problem of long work hours. Such employees will be forced to put in long hours if their companies have the power to determine their workloads.
 新制度で、働く人の職務内容が明確化されるのは望ましい。ただ、「残業代をなくせば長時間労働がなくなる」という主張は根拠が薄い。企業側に仕事量を決める権限があるなら、長時間労働を余儀なくされる。

The eligibility for the new payment rule should be limited to workers who have the discretion to determine how much work they do and enough leverage to negotiate with their employers on their working conditions. It is also vital to establish a regulation to compel such employees to have a certain number of days off.
 新制度の対象は、仕事量を決める裁量があり、会社と交渉する力がある労働者に限るべきだ。休日を強制的にとらせるといった規制も欠かせない。

There is still the worrisome possibility that the scope of the system will be gradually expanded. Workers with annual incomes of 10 million yen or more account for less than 4 percent of the nation’s salaried workers, according to an estimate.
But the business community obviously expects this rule to eventually be eased to make more workers eligible for the new payment system.
Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the nation’s most powerful business lobby, has called for an expansion of the system to cover at least around 10 percent of all workers. It is probably necessary to establish the income requirement by law so that it cannot be easily changed.
 いったん制度ができれば、なしくずしに対象が広がる心配も残る。年収1千万円超の勤労者は全体の4%未満とされるが、経団連会長が「全労働者の10%程度は適用を」と発言するなど、経済界には対象拡大の思惑がにじむ。簡単に変更できないよう、年収条件を法律で決めることも必要だろう。

Policymakers also need to pay attention to the new system’s consistency with the current rules. For instance, employees in management positions exempted from overtime pay are currently called “management supervisors,” who are supposed to be senior officials involved in the company’s management.
 今ある制度との整合性も考えてほしい。例えば、残業代がいらない管理職は「管理監督者」と呼ばれ、本来は経営者に近い立場の管理職に限られている。

But many employers abuse this rule to cut labor costs by making many “management positions in name only” and forcing employees in such posts to work long hours without overtime pay. The government should consider abolishing this provision.
ところが、経営側に恣意(しい)的に使われる「名ばかり管理職」の問題が絶えない。廃止を検討していいのではないか。

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 13

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