Following the new restrictions on dispatch workers last November, a new form of employment has emerged. This form of employment is known as 限定正社員 (loosely, “limited permanent staff”).
Up till recently, the kind of direct employment in Japan had been either part-time or permanent. The difference is clear. Part-timers’ salaries are lower and they do not get to enjoy the same kind of benefits permanent staff do, such as bonuses, pension, etc. Of course, the oh-so-familiar lack of career security issue is present with non-permanent contracts. But the benefit for employees under part-time employment, especially those with families, is that you would not be transferred to other branches far away from where you live. And the benefit for employers is that they don’t have to pay a part-timer as much.
The choice would then be 1) a secure, full-benefit permanent contract with the possibility of being transferred somewhere far someday, or 2) an insecure part-time contract with no benefits but a guarantee you won’t be required to leave your families.
Very radical options. So what do you do when provided with two extremes? You come up with a system to reconcile the two. And that is where 限定正社員 is born.
限定正社員 is a full-benefit permanent contract which also limits the staff to a specified area where they live. This means, they can enjoy secured employment while at the same time have the guarantee they will not be transferred out.
How do companies benefit from this then? Of course there’s a catch. Staff under the 限定正社員 contract receive lower pay than their peers. If I didn’t get it wrong, it’s 30% lower (don’t quote me on this).
So all is good? Not really.
Imagine: a company has offices in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Shizuoka, and Osaka. A staff is employed under the 限定正社員 contract at its Kanagawa office. The company is doing well and decides to expand, but also decides to close its Kanagawa office for whatever reason. Staff under the 限定正社員 contract will then lose their jobs since they cannot be transferred elsewhere. This creates another problem in that, companies can make use of this loophole to conduct unfair dismissals legally by simply closing one branch and setting up another at areas outside areas where such staff members live, which is why the Japanese government has to come up with a law to put this under control.
In any case, such despicable organizations are few and far between. The new system, like any kind of invention, was created to provide a better place, a better life, but there will always be scums who abuse it. Regardless, that doesn’t make it a lousy system.