Non-Regular Civil Servants: Administrative Agencies Should Enlarge Path to Regular Employment

While the central government demands private enterprises to improve the treatment of non-regular workers and make them regular employees, it certainly does not make for a persuasive argument if the central and local governments are increasing the number of non-regular staff.

National government agencies employ a total of 158,000 part-time workers for jobs such as clerical assistants and counselors at Hello Work job placement offices, an increase of about 10,000 compared to fiscal 2018.

Local governments nationwide employ 690,000 non-regular civil servants in total, an increase of 240,000 compared to fiscal 2005. In addition to general office workers, they work as childcare workers, teachers and library staff, among other roles.

The central and local governments have been trying to meet administrative needs at low cost in the midst of their severe fiscal conditions, which has likely contributed to the increase in the number of such non-regular employees.

The income of non-regular employees is low and their lives tend to be unstable. Administrative agencies should make efforts to improve the treatment of these workers and enlarge the path to regular employment for those who desire it.

A particular problem that has been pointed out is the local government system of employing non-regular civil servants for a period of a fiscal year or less. In the past, local governments used to hire such workers based on their own standards, but the central government introduced this system in 2020 to unify working conditions.

While their employment has to be renewed each fiscal year, the features of this system mean that even part-time workers are entitled to bonus payments and other benefits.

Even so, their wages continue to be lower than those of regular civil servants, and critics say they are “government-created working poor.” A survey conducted by a group mainly comprising non-regular civil servants showed that more than 80% of non-regular government employees earn less than ¥2.5 million annually.

It is outrageous that people working for a government agency cannot earn enough income to live with peace of mind.

Some local governments shorten the working hours of non-regular civil servants by about 15 minutes per day compared to those of regular employees.

These municipalities explain that they set the working hours for non-regular civil servants based on the opening hours of service counters. However, if they are setting slightly shorter working hours to reduce personnel costs and are hiring them as part-time workers, this becomes problematic.

Some non-regular civil servants may choose non-regular positions of their own volition because they want to work when it is convenient for them.

There are, however, many non-regular civil servants who are working for administrative agencies, while worrying about possible non-renewal of their contracts each fiscal year.

In principle, the selection process for regular civil servants is based on examinations. It is advisable to consider special selection methods if non-regular civil servants desire to get a regular position, such as by exempting them from some of the examinations, taking into consideration factors including their work experience.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 20, 2023)