Japan’s health ministry panel has recommended a significant enhancement to the country’s paternity leave benefits to encourage parents, especially fathers, to take more paid leave and spend more time with early child care. The proposed plan, announced Monday, is set to increase paternity leave allowances to full income coverage, up from the current rate of approximately 80%.
- Enhanced Leave Benefits: Parents on paternity leave, who currently receive 67% of their income through employment insurance, could see a jump to 100% income coverage. This full allowance, however, is capped at 28 days, reverting to around 80% for extended leave.
- Inclusive Approach: The program extends to single-parent households and families with a non-working or freelance parent, ensuring broader eligibility.
- Current Paternity Leave Uptake: Despite existing benefits, only 17.13% of new fathers took leave in fiscal 2022, a slight increase from 7.48% in 2019.
- The Japanese government has set ambitious targets, aiming for 50% of new fathers to take childcare leave by 2025 and 85% by 2030.
- Corporate Incentives: Companies like Daiwa Lease started offering substantial incentives for extended paternity leave.
- Potential Policy Expansion: The panel also discusses benefits for parents working reduced hours after a child is born. However, this has sparked debate regarding potential career limitations and workplace dynamics.
- These initiatives are part of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s strategy to combat Japan’s declining birth rate. The administration plans to allocate ¥3.5 trillion annually for the next three years for child-rearing support. However, funding sources are yet to be determined.
This development marks another step in Japan’s effort to balance work and family life, aiming to address the country’s demographic challenges.