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Japan looks to encourage paternity leave by raising subsidies

17 Comments

To boost the number of male employees taking paternity leave and promote female participation in the workforce, Japan's labor ministry has decided to increase government subsidies for companies whose employees do so, sources close to the matter said.

The rate of men who take leave for childcare is currently around 6 percent despite six consecutive years of increase, far from the government's goal of achieving 13 percent by 2020.

Under the current system, companies receive subsidies if they undertake steps to facilitate paternity leave such as holding management seminars or getting bosses to encourage their subordinates to take leave.

So far, small and medium-sized companies receive between 570,000 yen and 720,000 yen for the first paternity leave taken by an employee. The sum ranges from 285,000 to 360,000 yen in the case of large companies. Subsidies are additionally given if more take paternity leave, based on the number of days taken.

The labor ministry aims to add around 100,000 yen to those subsidies for every male employee at small and medium-sized companies taking leave if companies take more of an initiative, the sources said. Details are still being studied, but large companies will receive half of the sum to be given to small and middle-sized companies, they said.

Japan ranked first among 41 countries in a UNICEF report in June on the childcare system for men based on subsidies and the length of paternity and childcare leave in 2016.

The report also noted, however, that the number of men who took advantage of the system in Japan was very low, giving reasons that included businesses being short-handed and company culture that made it difficult for employees to request childcare leave.

According to an August poll by Kyodo News on 112 major companies, slightly more than half said the rate of men taking child-care leave was less than 10 percent, while 19 percent of those polled said that the rate was 50 percent or higher.

Personal stories about company retaliation over paternity leave have appeared on social media, including job relocation, which generally means employees having to live away from their families.

A labor union based in Tokyo says calls by employees asking for advice on company retaliation include tales of job rotations and markedly lower personnel reviews after returning from paternity leave.

Keiko Ishikawa, a public relations consultant and expert on corporate crisis management, cautions companies that potential employees place importance on the ease of getting childcare leave.

Companies need to recognize that difficulty in getting leave may affect their corporate values and hinder their long-term growth, she said.

© KYODO

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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A labor union based in Tokyo says calls by employees asking for advice on company retaliation include tales of job rotations and markedly lower personnel reviews after returning from paternity leave.

Japan Inc. at its finest! Over 60% of employees are on short-term contracts with a maximum of five years and yearly evaluations. They are constantly under pressure to perform and evaluated with a childish points system. If you take time off, for whatever reason, you receive demerits for your yearly evaluation. It should be no surprise only 10% of men are taking paternity leave.

Then, they back it up with this garbage! "Companies need to recognize that difficulty in getting leave may affect their corporate values and hinder their long-term growth, she said."

Companies run a revolving door for employees, which is the purpose of these short-term semi-permanent contracts. Any disagreement or request for time off is met with with a lower evaluation and not having contracts renewed at the end of the year. An employee can jump up and down all they like, but as far as employers are concerned, all employees are replaceable at a whim. My Mrs requested an extra five days vacation on top of the company 3-day summer break. Her request was denied and she was told straight up that it would result in losing points on her evaluation and her contract would not be renewed in December. This is slavery! Plain and simple! Companies do not own employees! This same company holds weekly company meetings which are held outside of normal working hours and are most often on Friday nights for 60-90 minutes. My Mrs is on one of these short-term contracts. Her salary is ¥250,000 per month which includes up to 40 hours of overtime per month. And, if she was to complain, she would be on her way to Hello Work looking for another job. This is criminal where I come from. Japan might talk the talk of workplace reform, but they are far from walking it!

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Uhg just let my husband come home before midnight most days and I'll give you another citizen

11 ( +12 / -1 )

@Disillusioned

You are right. With most people under 6 month contracts they don’t qualify for maternity leave. My sister in-law works for Lexus and she is on 3 month contracts. Every 3 months she signs a new contract.

When my coworker tried to take paternity leave, he had to get an early contract from the University stating that he would be hired next semester for at least a year. If he couldn’t, then his paternity leave would be unpaid.

The government is throwing money at the companies when it’s the employees that need the subsidies. Pay is currently horrible and a maternity leave rate of up to 67% of your current pay for 180 days and then 50% afterwards doesn’t encourage taking leave. People simply can’t afford it.

Also, if your aim to have women work and men take leave, that won’t work when men get paid more than women. That’s giving a huge pay cut. Reduce salary for the man and then the women are not receiving the same rate as men.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Make paternity leave compulsory.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I must say that this is a good start,the government is acknowledging that paternity is as important as maternity.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

increase government subsidies

is code for

increasing taxes.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I must say that this is a good start,the government is acknowledging that paternity is as important as maternity.

Probably the only step. The headlines look positive even though the reality is nothing but. To avoid actual change, all that's required now is a few centuries of pre-meetings and meetings and post-meeting meetings to let the whole idea fizzle as not viable in Japan. Shoganai.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sorry....that should read "...the reality is anything but."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is slavery! 

Not even close. Repugnant that you would so claim.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why is it companies that do get money ?

All the effort is done by the Dad or Mum.

Turnover is the norm in all companies.

It should be legal to take some leave if asked.

Demography will continue to fall forever and Japanese be slave.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Blah blah blah

You can have all the campaigns, events, ideas, offers, and things on paper all you want.

Until things are actually enforced and done, consistently and nation wide, it means nothing.

Like so many other things in Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Subsidies? What if those companies not interested in subsidies at all, so far they just interested to have their worker still in their workplace rather than just to receive subsidies, that's always the case.

Employees who dare to take paternity leave, they'll receive demotion or being transferred to other places.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/28/issues/court-cases-shine-light-japans-problem-paternity-leave/

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is Japan. Nothing will ever come out of this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is Japan. Nothing will ever come out of this.

Ridiculous and insulting comment. The US, for example, does not have mandatory maternity leave, let alone mandatory patrnity leave.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/05/the-worlds-richest-countries-guarantee-mothers-more-than-a-year-of-paid-maternity-leave-the-u-s-guarantees-them-nothing/

Japan may not be up to the standards of some countries, but it is well ahead of the single richest and most powerful country in the world.

We also have a proper national health insurance scheme, elder care insurance, nationally mandated daycare centers, and a range of other services that do not exist in the US.

This is slavery! Plain and simple! 

Use of this term in this context is inappropriate and grossly insulting to the millions who have suffered under real slavery.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Money alone won't help, you need to change the mindset of Japan PLC. If fathers, rightly, believe they will be penalised professionally for taking time off then they won't do it, no matter how much money they are given.

Again, this is just lip service, ignoring the real problems.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Henny Penny - who's talking about the US - only you!

I agree with most of the sentiments expressed, but believe that the "company culture" mentioned in the article needs expanding on to include the social environment of all the workers.

Simply some people have been shunned by their co-workers when they have taken such leave. At my wife's workplace - a Big Company - her mid-30's senior took 1 month of leave (2 yrs ago) and everyone grumbled like hell behind his back.

Instead of wishing him and his wife and their new arrival well, he was treated as "How come he can time off" and according to my wife peopel have not been overly friendly to him.

Worker's mindsets also needs to break out of the shell and become more vocal and encourage and support positive change.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Its pretty rare for men to get it because many companies won't let them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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