Survey begun to aid pregnant employees

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe health ministry began its first-ever national survey earlier this month on the working conditions for pregnant women employed by small and medium-sized companies, as part of efforts to implement work style reforms to support them, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

There have been a number of cases in which pregnant women’s health has been harmed due to an excessive workload, causing them to miss work or quit their jobs.

The survey was commissioned by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and carried out by the Tokyo-based Japan Association for the Advancement of Working Women.

It covers about 2,000 small and mid-size firms across the nation. Employees of these companies who are pregnant or have had children are being asked to answer a questionnaire.

Relevant laws such as the Labor Standards Law and the Equal Employment Opportunity Law stipulate measures for employers to take for pregnant employees, irrespective of the size of the company.

However, small and medium-size companies are said to be lagging behind in taking steps, including preparing in-house rules, as such companies have fewer female employees than large enterprises.

In light of this situation, these firms will be asked in the survey whether they have rules on such matters as shortening working hours, ensuring time to go to prenatal checkups, and easing the burden of commuting.

The survey also asks these companies about other in-house measures for pregnant employees, including establishing consultation services to safeguard the health of pregnant women and putting a limit on night shifts.

Employees will be asked about any problems that occurred during their pregnancy, such as a threatened premature delivery.

According to another survey conducted on about 5,000 nurses in 2017 by the Tokyo-based Japan Federation of Medical Worker’s Unions, three in four respondents experienced such problems as a threatened miscarriage.

Other questions refer to such issues as working hours during pregnancy; consideration they have received from their companies; and necessary systems to prevent women from resigning due to pregnancy and childbirth.

The ministry plans to compile the results of the survey before the end of this fiscal year.

“We first need to grasp what kinds of problems exist [involving working pregnant women] and then consider what steps to take,” a ministry official said.Speech

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