How does the employment insurance system work?

Question: About how much are the unemployment benefit payments?

Answer: The amount of compensation one can get through the employment insurance system depends on several factors. First, the system looks at a person’s income, minus bonuses and other benefits, over the six months before the person lost their job. This figure is divided by 180 to determine the person’s approximate daily wage. About 50-80 percent of this figure (those with low incomes receive a higher percentage) is set as the person’s daily insurance benefit, which the person can receive for a set number of days.

Q: How is the length of coverage decided?

A: The basic benefit period depends on how long a person has been a part of the employment insurance system. For example, if a person has been making contributions to the system for less than 10 years, then he or she can receive payment for up to 90 days. For those who have been part of the system for 20 years or more, insurance payments last for 150 days. For those who have some special difficulty in finding a new job, such as a physical disability, then insurance payments may last as long as 360 days. If someone finds themselves suddenly unemployed due to company bankruptcy or layoffs, and had no time to prepare to search for a job, then the rules allow for 90 days of unemployment benefits even if the worker has been part of the insurance system for less than a year. Benefits in these cases are typically greater than for those who leave their jobs voluntarily or because of mandatory retirement.

Q: Can temporary workers receive benefits?

A: The requirements for joining the employment insurance system are the worker must work 20 hours or more per week, and the worker can expect to be employed for a year or more. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry does not have exact statistics, but it is estimated that up to 10.06 million temporary workers are currently not registered with the employment insurance system. Calls for a revision of the requirements are getting louder. At present, the Diet is considering reducing the required time of expected employment from a year or more to a half-year or more as a way to help temporary workers.