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Employment & Labour
Recent amendments to the Industrial Safety and Health Law and the Regulation on the Industrial Safety and Health Law will become effective on April 1 2006. Under the amended law, the obligation to reduce dangers and hazards that could cause labour accidents is extended, and employers now have a duty to care for the health of employees working overtime.
The Labour Trial Law, which is scheduled to come into effect on April 1 2006, aims to provide for the timely, flexible and effective resolution of labour disputes. Under the new system, applicants may apply for a labour trial with the district court. The district court then appoints a labour trial committee. Unless either party makes objections within two weeks, the committee's decision will be final.
The Whistleblower Protection Law was enacted in June 2004 and is scheduled to come into effect on April 1 2006. The Cabinet Office has announced new Guidelines for Private Enterprises regarding the Whistleblower Protection Law. The law was enacted to clarify under what circumstances whistleblowers would be protected from retaliation by employers.
Amendments to the Childcare Leave and Family Care Leave Law became effective on April 1 2005. Among other things, contract employees may now take leave under certain circumstances, the period during which an employee can take childcare leave has been extended and child nursing care leave has been introduced.
The Supreme Court has ruled that profit earned by exercising a stock option is regarded as wages from a tax perspective, and the substantive arguments of the judgment will apply to taxes. However, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Labour Standards Inspection Office take the view that such profits are not wages under the Labour Standards Law.
The Personal Information Protection Law was enacted in 2003 and refers not only to the employer's obligation to protect its employees' personal information, but also to personal information collected and retained by third parties in general. The law and its associated guidelines apply only to employers dealing with personal information for 5,000 or more employees.
Energy & Natural Resources
A report of a subcommittee to the Electricity Industry Committee has recommended that the liberalization of the electricity industry be expanded to included sales to high-voltage consumers. Once the changes have been implemented, about 63% of Japan's retail electricity market will be open to competition.
Deregulation of the Japanese petroleum industry first began in 1986 and has since been implemented in several stages by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This update describes some of the latest legislative reforms and the effects they will have.
This update examines the impact of the second stage of the liberalization of the electricity market in Japan and how new entrants are beginning to win tenders for supply.