KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2017
Changes to family-friendly legislation
Amendments to the law dealing with the welfare of workers who look after children or other family members took effect in January 2017 and seek to make the workplace more family friendly. Amendments include an increase in the amount of permitted family leave time; the introduction of overtime waiver rights for employees with family care duties; eased conditions for fixed-term employees to take childcare leave; and the ability to take half a day’s annual leave (instead of a whole day).
Changes to equal opportunities legislation
Companies will be required to have in place procedures and mechanisms to ensure that pregnant women or women who have given birth do not suffer from a detrimental work environment. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has issued specific guidelines on what companies are expected to carry out to comply with the amended legislation.
Discussion around changes to equal pay laws
Proposals to amend various laws to improve the working conditions of part time employees and promote the policy of “Equal Pay for Equal Work”, including requiring employers to explain the rationale behind differences in treatment and allowing courts to pass judgment on unreasonable differences.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2016
Additional protections for disabled workers
Legislation took effect in April 2016 which requires employers to give disabled persons equal opportunities in relation to the recruitment and hiring processes and prohibits unreasonable discrimination on the basis of disability in determining wages, education and training, the use of welfare facilities, and other employment benefits.
Improvement to health and safety laws
- From 1 December 2015, employers with 50 or more employees must arrange for doctors or public health nurses to conduct stress checks on their employees, to identify their level of mental stress.
- From 1 June 2015, employers must take appropriate measures to protect workers from passive smoking.
- From 1 June 2016, businesses which manufacture or handle hazardous chemical substances must carry out an assessment of the potential risk to workers’ health and safety, and use their best efforts to protect workers’ health.