Aeon Offers Childcare Leave Pay



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Japanese store Aeon is taking a bold step to close the gender gap in child care by giving workers who take babysitting leave 100% of their pay until their child turns one year old. The goal of this change is to ease financial worries and get male workers to share childcare duties more equally.

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About 150 groups will slowly start to follow the plan, beginning with the Aeon group in March 2024. There are no age limits on the participants. The store expects about 2,000 men and women to take advantage of the paid parental leave in the first year alone, though the start dates and pay periods may be different.

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Aeon’s system is meant to make up for the fact that current childcare leave benefits only cover about 80% of the take-home pay through employment insurance. When employees return to work, they will be paid the remaining 20%.

At the moment, only 15% of Aeon’s male employees take time off to care for children, while almost all of their female workers do.

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Aeon also wants to set up a way to deal with worries about job setbacks that might happen because of long leaves. The Japan Times noted that during childcare leave, employee evaluations will only look at the time before the employee missed work.

Aeon’s approach fits with a larger trend in the business world towards more flexible rules on parental leave. For example, Suntory Holdings wants all of its male employees to be able to take parental leave by 2025, up from 85% in 2022. Also, all eligible workers at Sapporo Breweries—women and men—took child care leave in 2023 thanks to a programme that gave them full pay for the first week and advice on childcare during work hours.

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The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare did a survey in June that showed 46.2% of male workers who had children during the previous business year took time off to care for their children.

As part of its plan to stop falling birth rates, the Japanese government has been pushing for more men to take care of their children while they are away at work. The goal is for 50% of men to do this by 2025 and 85% by 2030.

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