Japan looks to encourage paternity leave by raising subsidies
Kyodo -- Aug 23
To boost the number of male employees taking paternity leave and promote female participation in the workforce, Japan's labor ministry decided to increase government subsidies for companies whose employees do so, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

The rate of men who take leave for childcare is currently around 6 percent despite six consecutive years of increase, far from the government's goal of achieving 13 percent by 2020.

Under the current system, companies receive subsidies if they undertake steps to facilitate paternity leave such as holding management seminars or getting bosses to encourage their subordinates to take leave.

So far, small and medium-sized companies receive between 570,000 yen ($5,350) and 720,000 yen for the first paternity leave taken by an employee. The sum ranges from 285,000 to 360,000 yen in the case of large companies. Subsidies are additionally given if more take paternity leave, based on the number of days taken.

The labor ministry aims to add around 100,000 yen to those subsidies for every male employee at small and medium-sized companies taking leave if companies take more of an initiative, the sources said. Details are still being studied, but large companies will receive half of the sum to be given to small and middle-sized companies, they said.

Japan ranked first among 41 countries in a UNICEF report in June on the childcare system for men based on subsidies and the length of paternity and childcare leave in 2016.

The report also noted, however, that the number of men who took advantage of the system in Japan was very low, giving reasons that included businesses being short-handed and company culture that made it difficult for employees to request childcare leave.

News source: Kyodo
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