Lower house passes bill to shorten work hours for those with kids under 3
posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 11:50 AM
A government-sponsored bill to revise the Law for Childcare Leave so companies are obliged to allow shorter work hours for employees who are raising children aged under 3 cleared the House of Representatives Tuesday, making its enactment into law by next month likely.
Designed to help workers secure time to raise children in a country with a low birthrate, the bill was immediately sent to the House of Councilors.
It won unanimous approval in Tuesday’s lower house plenary session as the ruling and opposition blocs had reached an agreement and amended the original bill to enhance measures to prevent unfair layoffs of workers with young children, especially during the current recession.
The upper house is now expected to approve the bill during the current Diet session through July 28, lawmakers said.
Under the bill, companies would be required to introduce a system of shorter work hours of about six hours a day for employees raising children aged under 3 and to exempt them from overtime if they so desire.
The law currently allows companies to choose from several options, including the system of shorter work hours, overtime exemption and installation of a nursery, for those employees.
The bill would also extend the period during which both parents can take childcare leave to last until their child turns 14-months-old from the current period of until the child reaches the age of 1 year.
It also features creating a system of nursing leave of five to 10 days a year for workers taking care of family members in need of nursing care.
Employers that violate the revised law would receive instructions or warnings from prefectural labor bureaus and their names would be made public if they ignore the instructions.
The ruling and opposition parties agreed to put forward the start of this punitive measure in amending the bill at the House of Representatives Health, Labor and Welfare Committee.