Statement Opposing the “Bill to Amend Part of the Labor Standards Act, etc.” to Deregulate the Work-Hour Regulations
On April 3, 2015, in the cabinet meeting, the Japanese government decided to enact the “Bill to Amend Part of the Labor Standards Act, etc.” (the “Bill”).
First, the Bill stipulates the establishment of a “special high-level professional operations and merit-based labor system” (so-called “high-level professional labor system”) where the provisions concerning work hours, higher rates of pay for overtime or holiday and late-night work stipulated in the Labor Standards Act shall not apply to people who engage in work which requires highly specialized knowledge and satisfy certain requirements including that their annual income exceeds three times the average salary to an appreciable degree. However, this system has serious problems, such that, it raises concerns that the system may promote long working hours and cause the scope covered by the system to be expanded easily, since such scope of work and details regarding the annual income requirements are entrusted to ministerial ordinances.
Next, the Bill states that the scope of work that falls into the discretionary work system (i.e. The White-Collar Exemption System) shall be expanded. However, since the expansion of the scope of work which falls into the discretionary work system may cause long working hours, a careful review is necessary.
In addition, the government sets forth, as a purpose of the Bill, the structuring of a legal system to prevent overwork as well as the establishment and review of the above-mentioned system. However, the Bill does not stipulate any effective legal system to directly prevent excessively long working hours.
Based on the reasons stated above, the JFBA hereby states its opposition to deregulate the regulations on working hours without putting effective measures to prevent excessively long working hours.
April 6, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations