Tokyo gov’t employed worker over 20 years on temp contracts without benefits

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government employed a woman as a librarian for over 20 years through repeated renewals of short-term contracts, meaning the woman has not received commuter expenses or other allowances, or been entered into government employee medical insurance, it has been learned.

“We cannot determine if there is a city-employed worker who worked for 20 years on short-term contracts, but even if there is, it does not violate the law,” said a city spokesperson. However, legal experts are criticizing the metropolitan government, saying that this method of employment ignores many labor laws.

The Tokyo government’s rules on short-term employment stipulate that “a single contract will be for two months, and in the event the employee’s contract must be renewed, the continuous period of employment can not exceed six months.” To abide by these rules, the woman has been employed on two-month contracts, and in recent years she has been working for five-month stretches followed by one-month breaks before being hired again.

At least one bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government employs around 600 employees on short-term contracts. It is possible there are other employees on short-time contracts effectively working as long-term employees.

One lawyer knowledgeable on labor issues says, “It is a serious problem having someone working continuously, which cannot be called ‘short-term,’ and leaving them without the protection and stability of social insurance for 20 years.”