Japan expands childcare benefits to fight declining birthrate: reports

New measures include offering more flexibility to working parents

Japan expands childcare benefits to fight declining birthrate: reports

Employers across Japan will be mandated to offer flexible work options to employees with young children under recently enacted legislation to encourage work-life balance in the country.

This means employees with children aged three and above who are not yet enrolled in schools may choose from various work style options, such as working from home and shorter or staggered work hours, Kyodo News reported.

The new measure is part of Japan's move to revise its childcare and nursing care leave law to encourage work-life balance and combat the country's declining birthrate.

The revisions will take effect in stages starting April 2025, according to the Jiji Press.

Other measures included in the legislations include obligating employers to allow staff with children under three to work from home.

Employees may also get exempted from working overtime until their child enters elementary school, according to the Jiji Press, much longer than the current provision which only allows for exemption until the child turns three.

The childcare leave policy will also be expanded to include parents with children in third grade, extending coverage beyond the current policy that only applies to parents with pre-school children.

Meanwhile, the revised laws will also mandate employers with over 300 employees to disclose the percentage of male employees who have used their childcare leave.

Declining birth rate, ageing workforce

Japan has been making efforts to help parents better manage their responsibilities at home and work.

It comes as Japan's workforce shrinks and will likely continue as the country's birth rate continue to remain at low levels. Prime Minister Kishida said the "next six to seven years" will be the country's last chance to reverse its declining birth rate.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) previously urged the government abolish the mandatory retirement age in Japan to expand its talent pool.

"Abolishing the right of firms to set mandatory retirement, typically at 60, would increase employment and weaken the role of seniority in setting wages, which would also benefit women and younger workers," the OECD previously recommended.

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