Prudent consideration essential when allowing side businesses or 2nd jobs

The Yomiuri ShimbunMoves are spreading among companies to allow employees to have side businesses or second jobs. Will they take root in Japan as a new way of working?

Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. plans to allow its employees to have a second job within this business year. Mizuho envisions a scenario in which an employee works three days a week at Mizuho while working a second job at a venture company or a small or medium-size company for two days a week.

Since November last year, McDonald’s Company (Japan), Ltd. started to allow its employees to take up such positions as corporate advisers or university lecturers as side businesses on days when they are not working for McDonald’s.

Underlying such moves is the idea that if employees broaden their knowledge and personal connections outside the company, it could lead to new businesses.

Also, companies unable to spare the time and money to educate their employees directly may hope to enhance employees’ abilities without incurring training costs.

There are a number of advantages for the workers, too. They may find jobs worth trying outside of their main jobs, and the experience of a side job may lead to starting a new business or changing jobs.

The government advocates “promotion of side businesses and second jobs” as part of work-style reform. It is understandable to open the way for companies and workers alike to have wider options, but there are a lot of issues for spreading such work styles.

Blurring the karoshi line

One issue is that it will become difficult to control working hours.

Under the current framework, whether a worker’s working hours exceed the so-called karoshi line — the number of hours beyond which a death is presumed to have resulted from overwork — is determined by the hours put in at one company. Deaths after working a combined total of long hours beyond that line at a main job and a side job will basically not be recognized as work-related, if neither company’s working hours exceed the line.

There is a view that combined working hours must be used when examining whether a death is work-related. However, that view leaves unresolved the issue of which of the two companies should be held responsible in cases of death from overwork.

For one thing, whether the company providing the main job can accurately record an employee’s working hours at a side job will likely remain a problem.

Additionally, studies must be done on the public unemployment insurance and health insurance systems. To take out such insurance, one must meet certain conditions, such as working 20 hours or longer a week, but those systems are designed with a single employer in mind.

Even if a person works a total of 20 hours or longer at two or more companies, he or she cannot enroll in such insurance unless working hours at one employer reach 20 hours.

By listening to opinions of both workers and companies, a framework should be devised that would disadvantage neither side when it comes to side businesses or second jobs.

There are many people who find it necessary to hold a number of part-time jobs to forge their livelihood. To develop environments for side businesses and second jobs, it is essential to have discussions encompassing the perspectives of all working people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2019)Speech


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