Japan recently amended its Act on Child and Family Care Leave to expand childcare leave entitlements in the country. A significant feature of the amendment to be phased in beginning April 2022 is the creation of a new system allowing employees to take 4 weeks of childcare leave within eight weeks from the date of childbirth.
The intention is to make it easier for men to take childcare leave immediately after birth to better support their child and partner. Within 8 weeks of the child’s birth, employees can work up to half the number of days they take childcare leave (labor-management agreement is required).
For income during childcare leave, benefits are paid as before. The amount is 67% of their wage at the start of childcare leave, reducing to 50% after 7 months. However, employees’ shares of social insurance premiums (such as health insurance premiums and welfare pension insurance premiums) are exempt. About 80% of the actual amount of payment is guaranteed during childcare leave.
(Note: there is an upper limit to the payment amount, which is about 300,000 yen in the first 6 months and about 220,000 yen after 7 months).
Other essential aspects of the revised bill include:
- Eligible men must take childcare leave to understand the system and individually confirm their intention to take childcare leave.
- Within the 8-week childcare leave mentioned earlier, men can take childcare leave up to 4 times, and women can take childcare leave twice by the time the child turns one.
- The application deadline is 2 weeks before taking the leave.
- Previously employees labeled as having ‘non-regular employment for less than one year of work’ could not take childcare leave. Now they can.
- From April 2023, large companies with 1001 or more employees must announce the rate of male employees taking childcare leave.