The Japan Staffing Services Association, an organization of companies in the worker-dispatching industry, has announced a plan to establish in April 2002 a health insurance society for workers dispatched by companies affiliated to the association. It is expecting some 60 firms and 100,000 workers to join at the time of establishment.
Currently, workers who are registered at dispatching companies and work on the basis of one-shot job contracts, have an obligation to join the health insurance society of their dispatching firms, if the job contract term is two months or longer. However, a problem which has been pointed out is that such workers have to leave the health insurance society of the firm when their job contracts end, and thus have to join the National Health Insurance, which extends to the self-employed and the unemployed; thus they tend to end up with no health insurance coverage at all because of the trouble of repeated switching between the two health insurance schemes. (According to a survey of registered dispatched workers conducted by the association between January and March 2001, those insured under the social insurance plan of the dispatching firms they belong to accounted for 50.2 percent, those covered by the National Health Insurance and National Pension Plan for 22.3 percent, those covered by the insurance plan of their spouses or householders for 14.6 percent, and those who do not apply for any insurance plan for 4.5 percent. See the December 2001 issue of Japan Labor Bulletin for more information.)
Under these circumstances, an insurance plan available to dispatched workers waiting for their next employment contract was long awaited, and the association’s new insurance plan, tentatively named the Health Insurance Plan for Dispatched Workers, is expected to improve the work environment of the workers in question by covering them continuously with one single insurance plan.
This Health Insurance Plan for Dispatched Workers will treat workers waiting for another client firm if the waiting period is only a short time, a maximum of one month or so, as if they are still under an employment contract, allowing them to continue to be insured by the plan if both they themselves and their dispatching agencies pay the insurance premium. Even when dispatched workers cannot find a new client firm for a longer period, they are eligible for the plan provided that they bear the agency’s share of the pension premium together with their own. In such cases, workers waiting for a long time are entitled, for the first month, to a reduction in premium payment, being required to pay the equivalent, more or less, of the premium under the National Health Insurance Plan. To lighten the burden on both labor and management, the premium will be set at eight percent of monthly income (shared between workers and their agencies), which is lower than the governmental insurance plan’s 8.5 percent. This reduction in pension premiums is said to be achievable in that the average age of dispatched workers is around 30, so that they seldom suffer from diseases that are expensive to treat. Moreover, establishing a joint center for affiliated agencies enables a substantially more efficient handling of insurance management. The Japan Staffing Services Association has set up an office to make preparations for the insurance plan, and is discussing the details.
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