The new shakai hoken law, taking effect on October 1, 2016
Workers who meet all of these criteria must be enrolled in shakai hoken (health insurance and pension):
1. Work 20 or more hours per week.
2. Make 88,000 yen a month or 1,060,000 yen a year.
3. Not a full-time student.
4. Expected to work one year or more.
5. Certain types of workers are not eligible (self employed)
At first, this new law will only apply to companies that 501 or more employees enrolled in shakai hoken as of October 1, 2016.
So how will this affect our members?
The law is clear—20 or more hours per week
The current guideline (not law) the government set forth is that workers who work 3/4 of what “regular employees” do should be enrolled in shakai hoken. Companies have long used this guideline and the law’s vagueness to claim that they don’t need to enroll employees who work less than 30 hours per week (leading to the dreaded 29.5 hour contract). The General Union disagrees with this opinion and argues that nearly all workers should be enrolled in shakai hoken.
But with the changes taking place next year, the vagueness is gone and the law will become very clear. People working 20 hours a week must be enrolled in shakai hoken; people working less than that can’t enroll.
As a side effect to this law, the 29.5 hour contract will become moot. We’ve already heard of companies planning to change their contracted hours, so read carefully next time you renew your contract.
Make 88,000 yen a month or 1,060,000 yen a year
Minimum wage in some prefectures may not be enough for workers to meet this requirement, even if they do work 20 hours a week.
Expected to work one year or more
This is the EXPECTATION to work one year or more—that is, if you have a one-year contract, you meet this requirement and can enroll in shakai hoken right away (as long as you meet the other requirements as well).
What if you don’t have a one-year contract? For example, if you have a six-month contract, you can’t enroll in shakai hoken during your first contract. However, when you renew and start your second six-month contract, then you will have the expectation of working for one year (six months + six months), and you can enroll as soon as your second contract starts.
In the shakai hoken scheme, the employer pays half of enrolled employees’ pension and insurance. In order to reduce the impact of having to enroll lots of employees at once, this law will only apply to major companies at first (the government is planning to change this in the future). If you work at a company that has 501 or more employees enrolled in shakai hoken now, your company must follow the new law when it takes effect. If your company is smaller, it can keep following the current, vaguer law.
Will I lose my shakai hoken?
With the new law, the shakai hoken requirements will become much more concrete than they are now. There may well be people who are enrolled in shakai hoken now who don’t meet the new requirements. So will they lose their shakai hoken next October?
No, they won’t. As long as they stay with the same employer, those workers who are enrolled up until September 30, 2016 will be grandfathered in and will be able to keep their shakai hoken.
The General Union will continue to make sure that companies follow the law. Do you have questions about shakai hoken or other types of insurance? Not enrolled and you think you should be? Email email@example.com