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Japan gov't to subsidize paid leave to care for children amid school closures

A government building housing the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is seen in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- The health ministry announced March 2 it will compensate companies up to 8,330 yen per person per day for employees who are taking paid leave to care for children due to nationwide closures of schools in response to the new coronavirus.

The income compensation subsidy will apply to regular and non-regular employees alike, and will cover all of their income per day up to the maximum amount of 8,330 yen for leave taken between Feb. 27 and March 31.

The subsidies will be provided to companies that have given paid leave separate from set annual paid leave to employees taking care of children attending elementary schools and special needs schools (through high school) that have been temporarily closed in response to a government request, or are caring for children who may be infected with the coronavirus COVID-19.

The funds will also be granted to employers of parents of children in afterschool children's programs, kindergartens, day care centers and certified early childhood education centers. Because the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare determined that there would be little need for parents to stay home from work to care for junior high and high school students who are also off from school due to nationwide school closures, employers of parents of children in that age group are not eligible for the subsidy.

Unemployment insurance will be used as funds for the subsidies. The government will shoulder the income compensation amount during leave for major and mid- to small-sized companies up to a maximum of 8,330 yen per person per day. For part-time workers who are not enrolled in unemployment insurance, the funds will come from the government's general account.

The ministry was initially set to compensate up to 70% of the loss workers experienced. However, it changed its policy March 2, based on concerns from the prime minister's office and the ruling coalition about the burden the move would place on companies.

(Japanese original by Keisuke Umeda, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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