September 27, 2021
On October 1, Shimizu Corporation（President: Kazuyuki Inoue）will launch a new paternity leave program that will allow fathers, if they so wish, to take up to four weeks of paid leave within eight weeks of the child’s birth. The new program is designed to comply with Japan’s revised law on childcare and family care leave, which was enacted last June. Under the revised legislation, companies will be required from October 1, 2022 onward to provide a program of paternity leave. By introducing the new program in 2021, Shimizu will satisfy this legal requirement one year early.
A key strategy in Shimizu’s Mid-Term Management Plan（fiscal 2019–2023）is talent development and working style reform. Under this strategy Shimizu has worked to reform a range of its systems, including parental leave. The Japanese public increasingly expects men to participate in housework and parenting as way of promoting diversity and reversing the falling birthrate. Against this backdrop, Shimizu has overhauled its system of parental leave with the aim of cultivating an organizational culture where it is natural and proper for men to take paternity leave. To encourage the new program to gain traction, the program has given a simple, catchy name: pataniti kyūgyō, a name that ties in with the English “paternity leave.”
Under Shimizu’s existing system of parental leave, employees can take unpaid leave for any reason and for any number of days until the child’s second birthday. Although an increasing number of fathers take such leave uptake remains low at 18.5 percent as of fiscal 2020. To encourage a higher uptake, the new program will ease financial concerns by providing paid leave. It will also create an organizational culture in which fathers feel comfortable about spending time away from work. To create such culture and fulfill the spirit of the new legislation, managers will be required to hold a meeting with any employee eligible for the leave and encourage the person to take the leave. Additionally, adjustments will be made and rules will be implemented to ensure that the person can devote himself to parenting without worrying that he is letting colleagues down. For example, the organization as a whole may reorganize jobs, or the relevant department may appoint a stand-in to cover the work until the person returns. The new program will not reduce male employees’ freedom to participate in parenting, as they will still be free to use the existing system of leave on top of the paid leave.
Shimizu will continue to practice diversity management and drive forward its agenda of reform so that employees, regardless of gender, can balance career with family.
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