Japanese gov't may include more part-time workers in pension system

TOKYO, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government may look to include more part-time workers into the national employee pension system by mandating companies with relatively small workforces to enroll in the program, local media reported Wednesday.

Under the current system, firms employing more than 501 staff are required to participate in the program. However, the government is mulling lowering the figure to increase the number of workers enrolled in the employee pension program.

In a bid to address concerns among workers about having adequate financial means after they retire, government sources said that the idea being floated is to lower the number of employees required to enroll in the program to 101 in October 2022 and to 51 two years later to provide more comprehensive pension coverage.

The move to expand the pension program to include smaller companies and part-time workers, if it comes to fruition, will see the amount paid into the pension system increase by 159 billion yen (1.5 billion U.S. dollars).

Contributions to the pension system are split equally between employee and employer, with the government, keen to bolster contributions with the addition of 650,000 workers into the system, initially seeking to scrap the lower limit of employees required to join the program.

In response to companies not wanting the threshold to be eliminated immediately due to concerns that doing so could adversely affect operations, with companies also objecting to the threshold being dropped in a single phase to 51 employees or above immediately, the government has not set a deadline for scrapping the threshold altogether.

The government, the sources said, has heeded theses calls from firms, particularly in regards to the possible downside effects an immediate withdrawal of the threshold system would have on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Japan's current employee pension program, in terms of part-time staff working at firms with more than 501 employees, requires part-timers working a minimum of 20 hours a week and earning more than 88,000 yen (806 U.S. dollars) a month to be enrolled in the program.

The insurance premium for the 44.4 million employees enrolled in the pension program, working in both public and private sector positions, is currently based on an 18.3-percent contribution of monthly earnings.

[ Editor: SRQ ]
 

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