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Panel urges variable work hours for teachers

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A government panel on Thursday recommended the introduction of a variable work hour system for public school teachers to tackle the problem of their overwork.

The system is expected to allow teachers to work long hours during busy periods while taking more days off during students’ summer break, for example.

The recommendation is part of a draft report on teachers’ work style reforms compiled by a special committee of the Central Council for Education, which advises the education minister.

The council will submit the report to the education minister early next year. The ministry will revise teachers’ work system based on the report.

The draft report proposed allowing municipalities to choose whether to apply variable working hours to public school teachers, starting from fiscal 2021.

According to estimates by the ministry, working three extra hours per week on school days will allow teachers to take 15 more annual holidays. If they work four extra hours, they can take 20 more days off.

The report also included a request for the government to draw up guidelines that set an upper limit on teachers’ overtime work.

At Thursday’s meeting of the special committee, the education ministry presented a plan to limit overtime work to 45 hours per month and 360 hours per year in principle, the same as the regulation to be applied to private-sector companies under work style reform legislation.

In addition, with the aim of reducing teachers’ workloads, the draft report listed school duties that should not always be carried out by teachers. Such duties included answering surveys, taking care of students during breaks between classes, cleaning school buildings and coaching students in extracurricular activities.

The report stressed the need for education boards and schools to seek in fiscal 2019 cooperation from local volunteers and other helpers for promoting the sharing of school duties.

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