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2014年8月14日 (木)

限定正社員 雇用の「二極化」を是正したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Division between temporary, regular employment should be addressed
限定正社員 雇用の「二極化」を是正したい

Regular workers on the corporate payroll are afforded employment security, despite often being required to work overtime and accept job relocation. Meanwhile, nonregular employees are poorly paid in many cases, and their employment status is unstable.

There is a pressing need to rectify the current situation in which corporate employees have been sharply divided into these two types.

One promising measure is more widespread adoption of a proposed system by which people could be hired as regular employees whose job duties, work locations and labor hours are clearly defined. Earlier, a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry panel of experts put together a set of guidelines to be followed by business corporations in adopting the envisaged system.

This system would not define the period of employment, just as no such term is specified for ordinary permanent workers. This means the position of workers in the new category would be more stable than that of limited-term nonregular employees.

Work locations and some other working conditions would also be clearly defined. This would naturally involve a gap in the treatment and job security given to the new type of regular employees compared to conventional regular workers. Nonetheless, employees under the new arrangement would still be able to receive pay raises and promotions.

The system signifies an effort to create a broader diversity of regular employment arrangements. It would accommodate changes in the status of workers from temporary to regular employment. The scheme would also provide greater opportunities for women to play an active role in corporate activities by granting regular employment status to those who must limit their work hours and locations because of childcare, for example. There is good reason to seek wider spread of the system.

The system is also expected to provide various advantages for corporations. It would help companies secure the talented personnel they need while also enabling them to keep such employees on their payroll for extended periods. The system would lead to greater productivity.

A considerable number of corporations have already hired employees whose status and other working conditions are clearly defined, including those known as area-based regular staff.

Set clear standards

In many cases, however, such corporations are vague about what conditions must be met if employees are dismissed, as well as their wage levels. This has aroused concern among many labor organizations. They are anxious about adopting the system, which they have said would produce more regular workers who could be easily dismissed. They are also concerned the system could be used to help reduce personnel expenses.

In its latest guidelines, the ministry’s expert panel said the corporate sector should try to maintain the employment of workers in the new category if their offices and other facilities are abolished, through such measures as personnel relocation. The abolition will not automatically justify dismissal as due process, according to the guidelines.

The guidelines also urged corporations to achieve a balance in the wage standards applicable to ordinary regular employees and workers in the new category. In giving a yardstick for setting pay standards for the latter, the guidelines cited the criteria adopted by corporations that have already introduced a scheme for hiring employees whose work locations are clearly defined. In many cases, such workers are paid wages equivalent to 80 percent to 90 percent of those earned by ordinary regular workers, according to the guidelines.

The creation of the guidelines bears a certain measure of significance for both labor and management.

The government must make the guidelines fully known to corporations as soon as possible, with a view to ensuring the system will be operated based on these guiding principles.

The status of workers in the new category and ordinary regular employees should not be made permanent. This is essential for preventing employees in the new category from being reduced to a second type of nonregular worker.

Each business corporation should devise a scheme with which it can flexibly change the employment status of workers to accommodate their wishes.

It is also important to reconsider working practices for ordinary regular employees, which seem to take for granted both habitual overtime and frequent job relocation.

The key to successfully pursuing the growth strategy is to improve nonregular workers’ career prospects while also better utilizing the abilities of female employees. All this is important, particularly at a time when our nation’s working population is decreasing.

We hope the government and the private sector will come together to show wisdom in making improvements in the employment system, with a view to bringing workers’ motivation and abilities into full play.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 14, 2014)


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« GDP大幅減 消費回復の後押しが必要だ | トップページ | (社説)子供とネット 仲間の輪をもっと広く »