Age-Free Law and Policy: A labor market approach or an approach of guaranteeing human rights

Author Name MORITO Hideyuki  (Sophia University)
Creation Date/NO. May 2008 08-J-022
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In this paper I analyze problems affecting age-free law and policy aimed at creating a society in which people can work regardless of their age, and the future direction thereof, together with comparative legal considerations. In age-free legislation in the U.S. and European countries, namely the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) in the U.S. and European Commission directives in Europe and domestic laws in individual member countries based on these, there is a good combination of policies from a labor market approach and an approach of guaranteeing human rights. However, with regard to Japan's age-free law and policy in the form of the Employment Measures Act (the prohibition of age limits when recruiting and employing prescribed in the former Article 7 and current Article 10) and the Act Concerning Stabilization of Employment of Older Persons (compulsory provision of employment security measures for older people under Article 9, and accountability when establishing age limits under Article 18-2), there have been not enough discussions based on the approach of guaranteeing human rights.

In the future, first of all with regard to the mandatory retirement age, if there is legislation to make it illegal then we must recognize that we will also have to be resigned to accept a society in which dismissal is possible irrespective of age, including because of the removal of the mandatory retirement age's concomitant function of providing job security, and of a change in the doctrine of abusive dismissal. Further, with regard to age limits in recruitment and employment we will need to give study to the direction in which, by placing the accountability stipulated in the Act Concerning Stabilization of Employment of Older Persons at the core of policy rather than the Employment Measures Act, companies themselves will have to find answers to the question of why they impose age limits. In any event, the age-free society has already established itself as a global trend, and to gear themselves for the coming age-free society, Japanese labor and management should prepare themselves institutionally and psychologically.