June 22 2005
The number of female employees and two-income families has increased recently, resulting in a rising need for support of childcare and family care. Therefore, the law was reviewed and amended in order to support childcare and family care by employees more effectively. The main features of these amendments are as follows:
Before the amendments, an employee hired under a fixed-term employment contract was not entitled to take childcare and family care leave. Under the amended law, a contract employee meeting each of the following requirements is entitled to childcare and family care leave:
Before the amendments, an employee could take childcare leave only during the period before the child's first birthday. Following the amendments, employees may take childcare leave after the child's first birthday up to the date when the child reaches 18 months of age under either of the following circumstances: (i) the employee wishes to place the child in a nursery but cannot do so; or (ii) the employee's spouse was supposed to care for the child after his or her first birthday but cannot do so due to circumstances such as death, injury or sickness.
Previously, employees could take family care leave only once per family member. Under the amended law, employees may take family care leave for each circumstance requiring family care for each eligible family member.
The amended law has introduced a nursing care leave so that employees can take leave to care for sick children. Employees raising a child may take nursing care leave for up to five days annually (until the child reaches elementary school age). Employers must provide this leave at the employee's request in addition to any amounts of annual paid leave. However, child nursing care leave can be treated as unpaid leave.
Another notable amendment is that employers are now required to implement one of the schemes designated by law to take care of children under the age of three. These schemes are as follows:
Employers are required to choose which scheme they wish to adopt and clarify this choice in the company work rules or other written company documents.
Further, the law requires that companies take into account the following elements when relocating employees:
Employers must also take into consideration employees' need to care for family or children by themselves. Therefore, relocation of employees caring for family or children should be implemented only after careful consideration of various factors and alternatives. An order of relocation made without careful consideration would likely be considered void.
The entitlement to childcare leave and family care leave set forth by the law represents the minimum and mandatory standards. This entitlement cannot be reduced or restricted by employers. Any employers that have not taken measures to implement these amendment (eg, by amending the company work rules) should take action as quickly as possible to avoid potential liability.
For further information on this topic please contact Yasuhiro Fujii at Tokyo Aoyama Aoki Law Office/Baker & McKenzie by telephone (+81 3 5157 2700) or by fax (+81 3 5157 2900) or by email (email@example.com).
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