Gov't urges male civil servants to take at least 1-month paternity leave

The Japanese government formally decided Friday to encourage male civil service workers to take childcare leave for a minimum of one month, starting April next year.
Under the policy, managers' performance will be evaluated partly on how easy they make it for subordinates to take paternity leave. Other measures will be introduced to make it easier for new fathers to make arrangements for their work to be done in their absence.
The policy also recommends workers take leave within eight weeks of childbirth in consideration of the physical burden on their partners. In principle, paternity leave is available for a year from childbirth.
The practice of men taking extended childcare leave is still not widespread in Japan, with only 6 percent of new fathers working in the private sector taking such time off in fiscal 2018.
By urging national public servants to take long childcare leave, the government hopes to promote a culture of acceptance of paternity leave in both the public and private sectors.
A survey conducted by the Cabinet Secretariat on male government staff under 50 between Nov 25 and Dec 19 found that 54.0 percent of the 22,000 respondents said they want to take childcare leave. A further 28.6 percent, while saying they wanted to take paternity leave, said they did not think they would be able to avail themselves of the system.
Under the paternity leave system, up to a week of paid leave is provided, with employment insurance partly making up for lost salary in the period taken thereafter.
In contrast to the high interest in taking paternity leave, the actual ratio of male government staff who took it in 2018 stood at 12.4 percent among those who were eligible.
Of those who responded they think they cannot use the system or they do not wish to do so, 37.4 percent cited a drop in income as a reason, followed by their work being too busy at 31.4 percent. In addition, 24.6 percent cited problems they expect to face in the workplace upon their return from such leave.
In June, ruling party lawmakers launched a group to explore ways to oblige male workers to take paternity leave.

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