Vol.40-No.5 May 1, 2001
Several factors making it difficult to match supply and demand in the labor market have become serious social problems. These include the adverse effects of high unemployment, prolonged periods of unemployment, and special difficulties experienced by middle-aged and older workers in finding reemployment due to age limits associated with many job vacancies. In order to deal with these, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has submitted to the Diet draft legislation designed to facilitate reemployment. Several laws will be affected by the proposed changes. The main features are as follows:
The first law which relates to the reemployment of individuals is the Employment Measures Law (which is an offshoot of the law of the labor market). The drafted revisions to this law first makes it clear that the government is to take measures to facilitate the reemployment of workers. They also stipulate that employers should provide support for job-seekers and should strive to give workers equal opportunities regardless of age when recruiting or hiring. It also requires employers to plan in conjunction with company labor unions to facilitate reemployment of workers who are to be dismissed. The resultant plan is to be submitted to the Public Employment Security Office for approval. In this regard, the draft of the revisions drafted for the Employment Insurance Law includes measures to give subsidies and financial support to business owners to help them in making temporary layoffs of employees when they are forced by circumstances to reduce the level of their business activity. There are also provisions for companies which give paid holidays to employees who need to seek new jobs before leaving the company.
The Vocational Ability Development Promotion Law also requires revision so that a scheme can be established to facilitate the smooth reallocation of human resources. There is a particular need in this regard for a fair and objective system for evaluating the vocational skills and abilities of workers, especially white-collar workers. The draft revisions here are designed to assist workers in deciding upon their own long-term career path. The aims of this legislation refer to the employee's career blueprint. The draft emphasizes the need to safeguard a worker's opportunities to receive necessary training with consideration for his individual career blueprint. This also involves an appropriate evaluation of the vocational skills and knowledge the worker possesses. It thus calls on individual employers to provide a position description with information on the skills and knowledge required for employees to carry out their duties in accordance with their career blueprints, and to pay attention to these blueprints in employment management. The evaluation system must be objective enough for non-profit organizations such as employers' associations and labor unions to implement a set of examinations so that vocational skills can be certified in some way.
The effectiveness of the measures proposed in these drafts cannot yet be foreseen. The government will still have to retain a certain aunt of discretion so it can move quickly as new trends emerge in the labor market.
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