Summary of the JFBA Statement Calling for Deliberations concerning the Labor Policy in accordance with the Tripartite Structure Principles
The Labour Policy Council of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (the “Council”) compiled a recommendation entitled, “Future Legislation concerning Working Hours” on February 13, 2015. Such recommendation includes (i) the establishment of a so-called “highly professional labor” system (i.e. The White-Collar Exemption System) which exempts certain workers, who satisfy the requirements concerning job contents and annual income, from work-hour regulations, and (ii) the deregulation of discretionary work systems, flextime systems, and so on. In response to the recommendation, a bill to revise the Labor Standards Act is scheduled to be submitted to this year's ordinary Diet session.
At the meetings of the Labor Policy Council sub-committee on working conditions where the above-described recommendation was reviewed, sub-committee members acting as representatives of workers had repeatedly expressed their opinions in opposition to the new system on the grounds that “there is a concern that the new system may induce long working hours.” Nevertheless, these opinions from the workers’ representatives have not been reflected in the recommendation, and such recommendation was drafted in line with the draft outline which was announced by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on January 16, 2015.
ILO Convention No. 144 and Recommendation No. 152 stipulate that revision, etc. of laws in the area of labor should only take place after effective consultations have been conducted among the applicable tripartite structure, i.e. representatives from the government, the employers and the workers. However, regarding the deliberations surrounding the legal systems, such as the working hours legislation and the Worker Dispatch Law (i.e. the Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers), which are the foundations of labor legislations in our country, if recommendations are decided in such a manner as mentioned above, then the tripartite consultations requested by the ILO must be said to have been greatly watered down, and deliberations at the Council for Industrial Competitiveness and the Council for Regulatory Reform themselves can be said to go against the requests and requirements made by the ILO.
The JFBA hereby states its opinion against the manner of deliberations conducted in preparing the current labor policy which has rendered the principles of the tripartite structure a mere façade, and calls on the government to duly conduct fair deliberations in accordance with the principles of the tripartite structure.
February 27, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations