[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Policy ]
(unofficial translation)

Tripartite Agreement on
Diversified Work Patterns and Work-sharing

December 26, 2002

Nippon Keidanren
(Japan Business Federation)

There has been no sign of improvement in the employment situation since a tripartite agreement was reached on work-sharing in March 2002. Accordingly, the government, employers and labor worked out an agreement on the employment issue Dec. 4 and confirmed our intention to strive to work together to maintain and ensure employment.
The tripartite agreement on work-sharing adopted in March considered it important, from middle- and long-term viewpoints, to study work-sharing based on diversified work patterns.
There are not a few problems to be solved before diversified work patterns and work-sharing can be achieved. The labor side requested that workers' anxiety about their future be relieved, good employment opportunities expanded, and work and family life be allowed to go together.
On the other hand, corporate management is facing the task of correcting the high-cost structure amid global competition, and enhancement of productivity and reinforcement of managerial infrastructure are becoming an urgent issue.
Diversified work patterns serve as a method of meeting the requirements of both sides. From middle- and long-term viewpoints, realization of diversified work patterns and lifestyles is an important task.
The government, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-Rengo) summed up below pending issues related to diversified work patterns and work-sharing. The three sides will drive home to corporate managers and labor unions the importance of diversified work patterns and work-sharing, and steadily strive to bring the matters to fruition.

December 26, 2002
Chikara Sakaguchi, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare
Hiroshi Okuda, Chairman, Japan Business Federation
Kiyoshi Sasamori, President, Japanese Trade Union Confederation

I. Basic Concept on Diversified Work Patterns and Work-sharing Based on Various Employment Schemes

At a time when globalization of economic activities spreads rapidly, the number of children continues to decline, the elderly population increases, industrial structure changes, and values on work styles diversify, it is necessary to review work patterns and lifestyles, and promptly create an environment in which work-sharing based on various employment schemes will take shape. Such work-sharing, which will help expand options for work patterns, is important to enhance the efficiency of corporate management. This was confirmed by a tripartite agreement in March 2002. In the process of further studies on the issues, the three parties confirmed the importance of promoting the creation of such an environment with the following viewpoints and future targets:

1. Creation of New Employment Opportunities through the Expansion of Options

Diversification of work patterns should be promoted in such a way as to enable management and labor to expand options. The three parties will strive to create social conditions for such a scheme and ensure working opportunities by pushing for necessary regulatory reform, including a review of labor legislations. At the same time, we will strive to create new employment opportunities through adequate redistribution of employment, wages, and working hours.

2. Utilization of Flexible and Diverse Human Resources, and Enhancement of Productivity

Introducing various work patterns enables management and labor to utilize flexible and diverse human resources in a manner to meet their mutual needs. At the same time, business activities will be made more efficient through effective utilization of human resources, adequate management of working hours and proper staffing.

3. Expansion of choices accomodating workers' lifestyles

Promotion of diversified work patterns will create environmental conditions in which workers can freely select work patterns meeting their life vision and lifestyle. The three parties will strive to widen the latitude of work patterns through such measures as the employment of short-time regular workers, promotion of home-based work, introduction of a system that allows workers to switch type of work, and create an environment that enables men and women alike to see their work and family life go together.

4. Expansion of NPO and Regional Revitalization

It is reasonable to consider that diversified work patterns include various types of work, not limited to working as an employee. Creation of venues for such work will expand worthwhile careers and spheres of activities, and lead to the expansion of nonprofit organizations as well as regional revitalization. The government, employers and trade unions should play their respective roles to achieve the aim.

It will be important for the three parties to take measures from the above-mentioned viewpoints. Specifically, the three parties will focus on measures mentioned in Item II below. In taking the measures, it will be necessary to establish a consultative system to promote work-sharing.

II. Tripartite Measures for Diversified Work Patterns / Work-sharing Based on Various Employment Schemes

To allow varied lifestyle needs and enhancement of productivity to go together, and to expand options for corporate employers and workers, it will be important for the three parties to take the following measures:

1. Measures to be Taken by Management and Labor

(1) Promotion of Diversified Work Patterns
Diversified work patterns should be positioned as an adequate option for management and labor so that corporate vitality, business efficiency and productivity are enhanced, employment opportunities expanded, and workers are allowed to display their abilities to the fullest extent.
For this purpose, it is important for each company to 1) examine and review the traditional employment practice, 2) introduce a new employment system incorporating various employment schemes and work patterns, and 3) expand options meeting workers' lifestyle requirements and complying with their life plans.
Nippon Keidanren and JTUC-Rengo will strive to take these measures.

(2) Promotion of Fair Treatment of Workers Worthy of Their Work
To allow workers to display their abilities to the fullest extent and enable companies to boost their vitality, it is essential to make fair evaluations of workers and give them fair treatment based on their work.
Management and labor are required to clearly define workers' job responsibilities and review the pay system in the light of pay per hour to introduce a fully convincing system in terms of pay and other personnel affairs.
Accordingly, Nippon Keidanren and JTUC-Rengo will continue studies on future directions of the pay system, including a mechanism that goes beyond the corporate framework.

(3) Optimization of Working-Hour Management
Optimization of working-hour management is an important issue for workers to maintain their health and fulfill themselves, and for corporate management to enhance productivity.
Management and labor are required to settle individual issues related to working-hour management through full consultation between them, and make efforts to correct excessively long working hours.
Nippon Keidanren and JTUC-Rengo will promote to create an environment for the optimization of working hour management through appropriate application of various working-hour systems and strict observance of the Labor Standards Law.

(4) Creation of Environment for Promoting Diversified Work Patterns / Human Resources and Ability Development
Promotion of diversified work patterns requires enhancement of workers' skills and techniques. It will become more important than ever for workers to enlighten themselves and develop their abilities. Employers, for its part, need to take positive action to nurture human resources and infuse investment into personnel development to make business operations more efficient and enhance productivity.
Each company will be required to build infrastructure for human resources development beyond the corporate framework on its own initiatives in addition to improving and reinforcing its in-company systems.
Nippon Keidanren and JTUC-Rengo will take positive measures for achieving the objectives of nurturing human resources and developing workers' ability.

Nippon Keidanren and JTUC-Rengo will continue studies on the measures mentioned in (1), (2), (3) and (4), with the aim of embodying them by the end of the current fiscal year.

2. Government Measures

In collaboration with the above measures to be taken by employers and trade unions for the creation of diversified work patterns through work-sharing, the government will take the following measures:

(1) Immediate Measures
a) Spread and promotion of work-sharing
To spread and promote work-sharing based on various employment schemes, the government will examine specific issues related to its introduction and strive to widely spread and publicize the system in metropolises and provinces alike.
b) Spread and promotion of work-sharing in industries and companies
The government will take the following measures to spread and promote work-sharing based on various employment schemes in industries and companies:
  • develop a basic model, including a list of things to keep in mind in introducing the system and methods of examining the effects of the system's introduction
  • develop a specific model for introducing the system in each showcase industry
  • enhance the effectiveness of a model based on the application in model companies and promote introducing work-sharing with the refined model.
c) Utilization of existing subsidy systems for new hiring in companies introducing work-sharing based on various employment schemes
The government will guide and enlighten companies about proper utilization of the existing subsidies when they employ new workers at the time of introducing work-sharing based on various employment schemes.

(2) Further Measures
a) Fair and balanced treatment of employees based on work style
The government will push for discussion on how short-time workers can receive fair and balanced treatment, and how the measure can be promoted. The government hopes to draw a conclusion on the issue by the end of the current fiscal year.
b) Expansion of application of social insurance for short-time workers
Given that the existing pension system will be revised in 2004, the government will continue studies on the advisability of expanding application of the employees' pension to short-time workers. The government will also continue studies on health insurance.
c) Others
The government will continue studies on measures for the creation of an environment necessary for the spread of work-sharing based on various employment schemes, such as clear definition of job responsibilities of corporate employees and the introduction of an ability evaluation system beyond the corporate framework.

III. Financial Support to Emergency-type Work-sharing

On the basis of the tripartite agreement of March 2002, management and labor are striving to introduce emergency-type work-sharing as an immediate measure for responding to the current severe employment situation. The government, on its part, has been extending financial support to companies implementing work-sharing of this type since June 2002.
However, as the employment situation has remained serious and the planned acceleration of disposal of bad loans could further aggravate the employment situation, it will be necessary to improve and expand the government's financial support to emergency-type work-sharing. The government will review the support, focusing on job creation in such a manner as lifting conditions on reductions in production.

Home Page in English