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'High-level pro' system applied to just 1 person in Japan amid overwork concerns

The Central Government Building No. 5 that houses the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is seen in this file photo taken in the Kasumigaseki district of Tokyo on Oct. 14, 2015. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- The so-called high-level professional workers' system that removes the legal cap on working hours for highly skilled, high-income workers was applied to just one person in its first month, the labor ministry told the Mainichi Shimbun on May 20.

This number shows companies' cautious stance over the system for highly paid professionals, as there remain serious concerns that it could lead to long work hours rather than promoting freedom to choose one's own work style, as touted by the government.

The professional system was incorporated into the work-style reform law, which came into effect on April 1. It can be applied to individuals in five job types -- including financial product creation and research and development -- and making 10.75 million yen or more per year.

Whether to apply the high-level worker status is determined by a labor-management committee, but only after obtaining the employee's consent. The company then reports the status' application to the local labor standards inspection office.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, just one company had introduced the professional system for a single employee as of the end of April. The employee is in charge of research and development for new technology, products and other items.

(Japanese original by Hidenori Yazawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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