politics

Lower house passes controversial bill on temp workers

20 Comments

After two failed attempts, the lower house of the Diet on Friday passed a bill designed to encourage temporary workers to get full-time jobs.

The passage of the bill, which now goes to the upper house for ratification, is a victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) boycotted the vote.

Last Friday, lawmakers scuffled in the Diet during deliberations over the bill which is expected to go into force Sept 1 after the upper house OKs it.

Under the bill, a three-year limit will be imposed on the use of all temporary workers in one position through staffing agencies, and employers will be urged to hire them as full-time employees.

But opposition parties have fiercely opposed the bill, claiming temporary workers would simply lose their jobs and employers would be allowed to easily swap temporary workers every three years, rather than hiring them full-time.

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20 Comments
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M3M3M3 JUN. 20, 2015 - 09:23PM JST What you're saying is usually true in America or Europe but most temp workers in Japan simply don't have the chance to take any initiative or exceed anyone's expectations. If they tried anything beyond what they were instructed to do, they would probably be fired.

By definition, what you're talking about is unskilled labor, which doesn't have anything to do with my post. I'm sorry, I have sympathy for unskilled laborers and firmly believe they should be given the resources and training they need to become skilled laborers, but I don't think it's any given employer's job to handle that. Any job in which it is impossible (as opposed to "it kinda requires effort so I don't wanna") to exceed an employer's expectations is a job for which the employer has no expectations. Which is a job no one should expect security or benefits for in the first place.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Stephen Knight: "I thought the bill was designed to encourage employers to hire temporary workers on a full-time permanent basis??"

No, it's just a bill to hide allow them to can part-timers and hire new ones instead, and thus saving on benefits they would have to pay out if they DID hire the temps as full-timers. If they added a class like miniello stated above -- where they cannot simply swap one part-timer for another -- then it might work in the favor of workers and what the government purports to want. But it's bull.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is actually a pretty simple solution here (though one that will never be realized). Companies hire temps to take advantage of flexibility in staff number. They tend to hire through temp agencies as the temp agencies can provide appropriate human resources. Temp agencies take a fee from the companies - not once, but for the duration of the contract period of the temp employee.

Best would be to reclassify temp workers as permanent employees of temp agencies. Any temp employee employed via a temp agency for over 30 hours a week would be guaranteed all of the legal perks available to regular employees - social insurance, paid vacation, termination only for rightful cause - paid for via the temp agency.

This would of course raise the rates that the temp agencies would be required to charge their clients - and this would encourage the clients to consider hiring regular employees - but it would still allow companies to avoid binding contracts during temporary expansions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@katsu78

What you're saying is usually true in America or Europe but most temp workers in Japan simply don't have the chance to take any initiative or exceed anyone's expectations. If they tried anything beyond what they were instructed to do, they would probably be fired. They usually work in support roles and if they do a good job, the regular employees who manage them will get the credit. The only way they can exceed their bosses expectations is by working longer hours and not claiming it on their timesheet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Strangerland

temp staff are often very willing to accept being paid peanuts as long as there is a chance that they might be hired someday and get their own seat on the gravy train.

Sounds like middle/lower class people who vote Republican in the U.S.

No, doesn't sound like it at all. People in the US who vote against their class interests do so primarily because of social issues, such as anti-abortion, or for racist reasons.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's break this down:

You're a sub-par worker at a temp agency and the company you're dispatched to isn't interested in hiring you: You were never going to get into the company anyway, and you don't deserve to be there forever. If you can't shape up in three years, you deserve to be out.

You're an excellent worker who exceeds everyone's expectations and the company you're contracted to absolutely does not want to let you go: Prior to this law, it was quite easy for you to be trapped in limbo. There was nothing to force companies to hire you, and they saved a lot of money keeping you on an endless temporary treadmill. But now that their hand is forced, they have to make a choice- bite the bullet and hire you, or make do with whoever your replacement is going to be, very likely someone who is un-trained and under-performing. If you're skilled labor, I'd bet on getting hired.

You're an average quality worker at a temp agency and up till now the company you're dispatched to has been on the fence about hiring you: Either you get directly hired, which is good for you, good for your company, and good for the temp agency long-term; or you don't get hired, so your temp agency shifts you out to somewhere else. Given the huge quantities of incompetent chaff temp agencies have to sort through to get someone halfway decent, odds are very low that the temp agency would risk firing you and having to replace you (and retrain your replacement), so likely worst case scenario for you is a sideways move. But you're still not missing out on anything here because prior to this law, your company could sit on the fence about you forever. So if you're a competent worker and your company is willing to let you go, let's face facts, they were never going to hire you before this law change anyway so you've lost nothing.

The way I see it, the only people who lose under this change are employees who aren't up to snuff and temp agencies who leech off of vulnerable people's labor without contributing any useful training. And these people deserve to lose, so I'm okay with that.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There is nothing wrong with being a temp worker and Iam glad that they are getting some sort of backing, but in reality it won't happen as the employer will just return the worker to the agency and hire X amount of new ones for a few weeks and get the previous ones back that they have trained up, Ive been in this position my self and I know what will and does happen. my be they should give them a tax brake or insentive to take them on, rather than trying to make pitiful laws that can't be enforced.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder about alts situation in Jp.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No problem with this bill. I haven't seen anything in the confusing wordage of this bill about the use of foreigners. Thus, the system of hiring foreigners to do the part-time work may be more important than ever. Therefore, this country may need more and more of these low-paid workers to fill the gap left by Japanese who will be facing less jobs thanks to the new bill.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

One study I have come across recently concluded that one standard deviation point towards unemployment risk lowers household consumption by 4.1%

For example, it's hard to buy a house (and all the related purchases and spending and economic growth that creates) when you can't be sure you'll still have a job in the same area after a few years. Lowered consumption in Japan is already a growing problem, keeping more and more workers on temporary contracts will only exasperate this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a step backwards as it allows employers to fill "temporary" positions with a succession of temporary workers. If a position exists for more than three years it should automatically become full time.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

temp staff are often very willing to accept being paid peanuts as long as there is a chance that they might be hired someday and get their own seat on the gravy train.

Sounds like middle/lower class people who vote Republican in the U.S.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Sunrise777

Very true. Another part of the problem is that permanent workers at large Japanese companies are compensated quite generously (probably over generously) so temp staff are often very willing to accept being paid peanuts as long as there is a chance that they might be hired someday and get their own seat on the gravy train. Most never will, and this just artificially drives down wages for other temp workers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In Japan, it is difficult for companies to fire permanent employees. This regulation caused increasing temporary employees. The regulation is so strict that there are many middle and old age employees who do not work so much. This fact is one major factor that stagnates Japanese economy. But labor unions have so much political power that block the deregulation. So the government amended this law and companies will be able to hire and fire temporary employees depending on corporate earnings. I guess the LDP knows the amendment is insufficient for vitalization of Japanese economy.

I think the best way is to abolish the regulation and to implement equal pay for equal value of work whether the employees are permanent or not.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's sad such legislation is needed in a developed country. The private sector increasingly wants to give back less and less to its workers while earning record high profits.

Inequality will be the death of our economies, given that workers and consumers are one in the same.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

This bill clearly needs to be reexamined. Let's not jump to the conclusion.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

As I understand it, a very large number of young men and women in Japan are struggling to make a living by working two or three or more temp jobs all the time. If the full time jobs were available, I'm sure lots of people would apply for them. But the government now wants to make it even harder for people to live and work? Surely doesn't seem right to me.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why not just add an amendment to prevent employers from rehiring one contract worker with another. Another solution is to train contract employees to do more than one particular job in the company, that way they become a valuable team player deserving full time employment. The list is endless to prevent this ridiculous merry go round. Seems ironic that a big percentage of public workers are on the contract system.??

8 ( +8 / -0 )

All this will do is increase the frequency of hiring and firing of part time workers. It might even put people off from bothering to hire workers or from (kids) bothering to take up such positions. That way, the Japanese government can state that party time jobs have "gone down", while full time have "increased".

Well done.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

passed a bill designed to encourage temporary workers to get full-time jobs

I thought the bill was designed to encourage employers to hire temporary workers on a full-time permanent basis??

8 ( +8 / -0 )

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