Revised Labour Standards Law Took Effect on April 1The Labour Standards Law has been revised, with the majority of the amendments coming into effect on April 1, 1999. Below is a brief outline of the revisions. For a more detailed explanation, see Special Topic in the November 1998 issue of the Bulletin.
1. Fixed Term Contract
Previously, the maximum contract period for employees was one year. This was to prevent unreasonable conditions being imposed on workers. However, under the revisions, when it is necessary to newly employ skilled or professional workers for example when developing new products, technologies or new businesses, or when employing those at the age of 60 or older the contract period may be extended to a maximum of three years.
2. Clarification of Working Conditions
When concluding a labor contract, an employer has been obligated to state clearly the wages, working hours and other working conditions and to state in writing the wages to the worker. Under the new legislation, an employer must state in writing the period of the contract, place of employment, the job to be performed, the scheduled working time, rest periods, rest days and annual paid leaves in addition to the wages.
3. Work Hour Averaging Scheme
Following the 1987 revisions to the Labour Standards Law, a variety of work hour averaging schemes were introduced in order to make it possible for employers and workers to allocate working time efficiently according to seasonal business fluctuation thereby reducing working time eventually. To make working hours even more flexible, the requirements for the work hour averaging scheme were altered with the 1998 revisions.
4. Maximum Number of Overtime Hours
Previously, the Ministry of Labour issued a guideline that provided standard upper limits of overtime and holiday work as stipulated by worker-management agreement. However, as it has no statutory basis, employers are expected to abide by this standard voluntarily. The revised law grants the Minister of Labour the right to set a standard with respect to the limit of overtime work in consideration of the well being of workers and overall trends in overtime.
5. Overtime, Holiday and Late Night Work Restrictions for Women Abolished
Women workers continued to be prohibited from working overtime, on holidays and at night beyond certain limitations even after the introduction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL) in 1985. The recent revisions to the Labour Standards Law have abolished these restrictions in line with the 1998 revisions to the EEOL. The goal is to achieve equality in employment between the sexes and open up the number of jobs in which women can be employed. However, in order to avoid severe impacts of sudden changes on women with a family obligation of nursing a baby or taking care of the aged or the handicapped, the Ministry of Labour is entitled to set shorter standards of overtime and holiday work than that for workers in general described above.
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