Universities to non-renew after 5 years

 gGoes against the purpose of the lawh say experts

 Avoiding Permanent Employment of Educational and Administrative staff

 A Number of Major Universities in Kyushu Countering the New Law

 With the amendment of the Labour Contract Law which came into effect on April first this year which stipulates that those who have worked for more than 5 years continuously on fixed term contracts may request to change their status to a contract with no fixed term (no-limit status transfer), a number of major universities in Kyushu are amending their work rules to insert a gnon-renewalh clause. With government subsidies to universities are decreasing, the aim is to avoid locking in permanent personnel costs. Experts have criticized the move saying it gGoes against the purpose of the amendment of the law which is to provide stable employment to workers on fixed-term employment contractsh.

 The amendment to the law does not apply to any specific industry, but to all workers. These countermeasures may have a flow on effect to other industries. Whereas the reason that universities have taken such protective measures in advance is that that already have a large number of teachers on fixed-term contracts who will be subject to the amendment to the law. Work rules (amendments) have been drafted for such teaching and administrative staff.

 The Nishinippon Shimbun interviewed private and 7 National universities Kyushu, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki and Kagoshima. Of these all except Kumamoto said that they had taken measures to deal with the amendment that came into force in April. Kyushu University has amended related regulations to state, gEmployees on fixed term contracts cannot be employed for a period that exceeds 5 yearsh. Previously, the rules stated gLimited to 3 years and 5 years with the possibility of renewalh, with continuous work over 5 years possible.

  Saga University has followed Kyushu University in amending their work rules relating to fixed-term contracts in April. The University explained  gWe understand that the purpose of the law is to improve working conditions for workers, but with the limited amount of government funding, managing human resources costs is our top priorityh.

 However, each faculty in the University of Kagoshima held discussions and in the faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Science etc. have abolished the upper limit on fixed term contracts, leaving the possibility of transfer to no-limit status. Nagoya University has taken a similar line, but on a national scale it seems to be the exception. The Ministry of Education said they do not have a grasp of the actual situation.

 With the amendment to the law, even a person on a 1 year fixed contract, which is renewed, in the 6th year the employee can demand non-fixed term status, which comes into effect in the beginning of the 7th year.

 However, the Labour Contract Law, different to the enforceable Labour Standards Law, has no penalties or ability to issue breach notices like the Labour Standards Law. The Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare has stated that gIt is not illegal for a company to set a limit on the number of years a worker can continuously work, but I really hope that if at all possible this it would be avoided.h  The Vice Minister made this statement in the Diet last year.

 According to labour law specialist lawyer Natsume Ichiro (Tokyo) , gIf  you donft make an issue of this clause now you wonft be able to fight it in court. I think teacherfs unions should make more of an issue of it .h

 (By Taketsugu Minoru)

 Nishinippon Shinbun

23 June 2013


Link to Japanese Article No-Limit Contract transfer flowchart