Japan is contemplating steps to provide a more “neutral” social security system, by eliminating the corporate-scale requirements to secure access. This initiative is underway directly from the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Secretariat. This is important for SMEs, non-regular employees and sectors where labor mobility is prevalent. Neutral access to social security will boost Japanese business and society.
On November 11, the 8th social security construction conference was held, and discussions were held to build a neutral social security system in Japan. The Cabinet Secretariat is not only an auxiliary body for the Cabinet, but also an institution that directly assists and supports the Prime Minister, the head of the Cabinet. Specifically, he is responsible for the general affairs of the cabinet, the planning and general coordination of important policies of the cabinet, and the collection and investigation of information.
Representatives from the following organizations/agencies also participated in the conference: the Japan Business Federation, the Japan Trade Union Confederation, the National Governors’ Association, the National Association of Mayors and the National Association of Towns and Villages.
The stated goals of the initiative are to examine active efforts by Japanese companies, including SMEs, towards the realization of a neutral system of worker’s insurance and “to resolve problems surrounding irregular employees and facilitating labor mobility.”
Japanese company and staff registrations, and ongoing reporting procedures relating to all matters of employment law can be complex, even for Japanese companies, and must of course be handled in Japanese. As with all social welfare and labor law matters in Japan, please seek out professional Sharoushi (Certified Labour Law and Social Insurance Attorney) support to ensure you and your company remain in compliance.
Article Sources. All materials are in Japanese.
The 8th All-Generation Social Security Construction Conference Home Page outlines the conference agenda and all of the presentation materials.
Office of the All Generations of Social Security Construction Headquarters, President Seike’s presentation materials.
Conference Outlines Important New Directions in Social Security. Key Takeaways.
Of the various presentations, perhaps that of the Cabinet Secretariat, Office of the All Generations of Social Security Construction Headquarters, President Seike summarizes the objectives best. The following is an English summary of the main ideas from his presentation materials.
Realization of a Neutral Worker’s Insurance System
- In order to secure a safety net suitable for employees, we should aim to apply employee insurance (welfare pension insurance and health insurance) regardless of the work style, the size of the company at work, and the industry.
- The elimination of corporate scale requirements for the application of user insurance for short-term workers and the elimination of inapplicable industries of private offices that regularly hire more than 5 people should be realized as soon as possible. At the same time, we should consider the measures necessary to smoothly expand the application of the system.
- We should review the regulations that exclude private offices that use less than 5 people and short-term workers with less than 20 hours of working hours a week from the application of the employer’s insurance and expand the application of the users’ insurance.
- For freelance and gig workers who are considered as “Workers” under the Labor Standards Act, we should clarify that the employer insurance will be applied and take the necessary measures to promote the application as soon as possible. On top of that, we should continue to consider the application of social insurance in the case that does not apply to the above, including consideration of new types of workers, referring to the actual situations of freelance and gig workers and foreign examples.
- In order to make the social security system and tax system, which can be restrictive of women’s employment, we will further expand the application of employee insurance to the public, and the benefits of the application of employee insurance will be widely promoted to the public. We should ensure that is shown in an easy-to-understand manner. In addition, we will continue to discuss ways of thinking of the currently uninsured, how to use the working old-age pension, and how to impose insurance premiums on self-employed people.
Resolving issues surrounding irregular employees and facilitating labor mobility
- We should strongly promote efforts to ensure the performance of Japanese-style “equal pay for equal work”, verify the effect of resolving the difference in treatment in the basic salary of full-time employees and irregular workers, and consider the necessary review of guidelines.
- We should continue to promote support for irregular employees who wish to convert to full-time employees through career advancement subsidies, re-learning, and vocational training.
- The expansion of “diverse full-time employees” also contributed to the “normalization” of irregular employees, and measures should be considered to spread and promote them in a desirable way for both labor and management.
- Measures to develop and revitalize human resources such as individual training, and measures to promote the facilitation of labor mobility, such as continuous career support, and visualization of job and workplace information, should be further promoted.
- In order to ensure fair treatment and facilitate labor mobility, including full-time employees, it is important to steadily expand the application of employee insurance, and in addition, non-financial information on the improvement of the treatment of irregular workers and the status of efforts related to mid-career recruitment, etc. In addition to the subject of disclosure of the report, it should also be considered to encourage companies to take their efforts.
Public discussion of steps to provide a more “neutral” social security system, by such esteemed agencies and groups supported by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Secretariat is noteworthy. Again, we see this as important for SMEs, non-regular employees and sectors where labor mobility is prevalent. More equal access to social security will boost business and society.