Friday, August 16, 2013

White collar exemption

The Abe administration intends to introduce the white-collar exemption.

Japan Press Weekly: Abe wants to allow white-collar exemption to save corporations from overtime payment

The white-collar exemption is a system for an exception of the regulation set by the Labor Standard Law. According to the scheme, working people who are highly specialized, such as an administrator, is not limited at working time and place. They cannot receive overwork  payment. It enables them to choose the working style.

Traditional labor was physical labor. It may be true that many laborers were exploited by the capitalists. Labor standard is established to protect the blue collared workers. In Japan, excessive working over 40 hours per week should be paid by overtime payment.
However, this theory does not fit for white collared workers. They need not long time work. The performance is determined due not to working time, but to their ability. Therefore, payment per time is not applicable to them.

Mass media are critical against this policy, as same as past discussion. Mr. Abe tried to introduce the white-collar exemption once in 2006, but to fail.

Tokyo Shinbun: No overtime payment experiment for over $8m earners

In Japan, the issues of nominal managers were burned up in late 2000s. Most of workers engaged in management are not allowed to receive overtime payment because they can manage their own overtime working. However, there were a lot of "nominal managers" in Japan, who is given quite narrow  discretion. They were almost same as normal workers. Some "nominal managers" filed a suit claiming that they had right to get overtime payment. They included the heads of the franchise stores, such as McDonald's and 7-Eleven. At last they won and most companies began to pay the overtime fee for them.

In the background above, the white-collar exemption is infamous in Japan. Labors association is strongly opposed to the scheme.

My opinion is that, the white-collar exemption is  quite natural policy. There are few jobs of which the value is calculatable with working time in Japan. Indeed, most administrators and specialists are working not concerning about the Labor Standard Law. The actual situation will not change after the introduction of white-collar exemption.

On the other hand, there are some people who spend working time with useless tasks in the company. Stay at the office is essential for them to get money. It is quite harmful to make more profit.  I understand the mind of employers not to pay for them. However, the white-collar exemption is not applicable to such low cost workers.

After all, there is no tool to change the society with only one scheme.
The labor market in Japan is extremely complicated. I have no answer to raise the profit without pain.

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