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Abe ‘accepts’ request on white collar exemption bill

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested Thursday readiness to accept a request from Japan’s biggest labor union umbrella body to modify a white collar overtime exemption bill in order to give more consideration to workers’ health.

In a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, Rikio Kozu, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, asked Abe to make annual leave of at least 104 days mandatory for skilled professionals under the proposed system to eliminate working hour limits for such highly paid employees.

“I take the request seriously,” Abe replied.

The government submitted the bill to revise the labor standards law to the Diet in April 2015. But Diet discussions have yet to start, with opposition parties criticizing the bill as legislation aimed at scrapping overtime pay.

The government will accept Rengo’s request as much as possible, sources familiar with the situation said. On the amendment, the government will hold a three-way meeting with Rengo and the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, as early as Wednesday.

The government is seen withdrawing the existing bill and integrating its content into planned work style reform legislation that will be presented to an extraordinary Diet session in autumn, the sources said.

The current bill stipulates management and labor choose one of three options — giving at least 104 days off per year, securing minimum intervals between the end and the beginning of work and setting limits on working hours.

The Rengo-proposed amendment calls for making management and labor choose between the options of giving two straight weeks of holidays and providing an additional health checkup, in addition to the mandatory 104-day annual leave.Speech

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