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2014年10月11日 (土)

派遣法改正案 増えるか減るかに終始するな

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Temporary staffing bill debate goes beyond simple ‘increase or decrease’
派遣法改正案 増えるか減るかに終始するな

A government-sponsored bill to revise the Temporary Staffing Services Law has become a legislative cause over which the ruling and opposition parties are locking horns at a newly opened Diet session.

The focus of their debate over the bill is what should be done to improve the treatment of temporary employees and guarantee their job security. Legislators need to promote constructive debates on the whole issue during the extraordinary Diet session, which opened on Sept. 29.
The bill was submitted to the new Diet session after similar legislation was scrapped at the last ordinary Diet session, which closed in late June.

The main pillar of the bill seeks to enable business corporations to utilize temporary staff in all categories of services for unlimited periods.

The current law does not permit corporations to keep temporary workers on their payroll for a period in excess of three years. Professionals in 26 fields, such as interpreters and secretaries, are an exception to this rule.

This legal restriction is aimed at preventing companies from replacing regular employees with temporary workers to conduct the work currently carried out by regular employees.

The amendment bill would authorize corporations to extend the period of employment for temporary workers, provided input is heard from labor unions and other entities affected by proposed measures once every three years. We find it reasonable that the bill will make it easier for companies to use temporary staff as a resource necessary for corporate activities such as expanding the scope of business operations.

Nonetheless, the bill will not allow temporary workers to be kept continuously on the payroll at a single business facility. The bill places a three-year upper limit on the term of employment for temporary workers in each job assignment.

The rationale for this rule is that experiencing various job assignments will help improve the skills of temporary employees, thereby enabling them to receive higher wages and other advantageous treatment.

These envisaged rules mean temporary staffing agencies will have a greater obligation to fulfill in this respect. For instance, the bill would require such agencies to take measures aimed at increasing the job security of each temporary employee after three years of work at the corporation to which he or she has been assigned. More precisely, a temporary staffing agency must ask the company to directly employ the worker, while also finding a new company to which the worker could be sent.

Systematic training necessary

Another obligation for personnel placement agencies would be to assist temporary workers in improving their career opportunities through measures such as systematic vocational training.

These steps constitute an effort to better protect temporary employees while also guaranteeing them a diversity of work styles. In fact, the current legislation has been insufficient in protecting such workers over the years.

Given this, the specifics of the bill can be deemed to be reasonable.

The Democratic Party of Japan is urging other opposition parties to join hands to oppose the bill, criticizing it as a measure conducive to increasing the number of “life-time temporary workers.” At a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, a DPJ member pressed the government for an answer to his question over whether the bill is intended to “increase or decrease” the number of temporary workers.

In reply, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized the purpose of the bill by describing it as a set of measures to “aid temporary employees in their career development, including an effort to place them on the regular payroll.”

About 40 percent of temporary workers hope to become permanent regular employees. It is important to reduce the number of people taking up temporary jobs despite their desire to earn a permanent position. However, it should be noted that a considerable number of people have limited time to work because of their family circumstances and other reasons, and, consequently, want to work as a temporary worker.

No one should be obsessed with debating the whole issue just from the standpoint of “an increase or decrease” in the number of temporary employees. Such a stance is tantamount to looking negatively at all temporary jobs without exception.

What is important is to improve the working conditions of temporary workers. It is essential to discuss pertinent issues from various perspectives, with a view to rectifying the status quo of temporary staff as low-paid workers who have poor job security and cannot expect to receive pay increases.

The amendment bill would obligate all temporary staffing agencies to operate on a licensing system, meaning they must fulfill more rigorous requirements.

If temporary staffing firms are consolidated into a group of corporations whose size exceeds a certain level, it will improve their power to better negotiate with the companies to which temporary staff have been sent.

We hope achieving success in realigning the temporary staffing business will do much to improve the treatment of workers in that sector.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 8, 2014)Speech


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