Part of the economic reform being pushed forward by the current Abe Government is to encourage more women to return to the workforce after taking maternity leave. A number of measures have been proposed and implemented in order to realise this. One such measure is the extension of the regime under the Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next-Generation Children.

What is the Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next-Generation Children?

The Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next-Generation Children sets out employers' obligations to formulate an action plan, including specific objectives to be achieved within a limited period, to help their employees raise their children, and to file that action plan with the regional Labour Bureau. These obligations apply to employers having at least 101 employees. It was enacted in July 2003 and implemented for a limited ten-year period, from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2015.

Since 2007, a system has been introduced to recognise employers who have satisfied certain criteria. To obtain recognition, employers would generally need to demonstrate, in particular, that at least 70% of their eligible female employees, as well as at least one male employee, have taken childcare leave. Relaxed criteria are applicable to those employers having no more than 300 employees. Recognised employers are permitted to use a mark of recognition (called "Kurumin") on their products and advertisements, and are entitled to a certain tax benefit.

Recent Extension

The Act has recently been amended to extend the period of application to 31 March 2025, so employers' obligations to formulate and file their action plan have now been extended for a further ten-year period. The revised Act also sets out a new system of recognition to seek recognised employers to make public the details of how they are implementing their action plan.

What to be aware of

Employers filing their action plan on or after 1 April 2015 will be required to use a new format of the prescribed application form, which is available here: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/general/seido/koyou/jisedai/kaisei/dl/01.doc