Aeon introduces childcare leave compensation system
Japanese retailer Aeon is taking a bold step to tackle gender disparity in childcare, offering employees on childcare leave with 100% of their take-home pay until their child reaches one year of age. This move aims to alleviate financial concerns and encourage male employees to participate in childcare responsibilities more equally.
The programme, with no age restrictions, is set to be gradually implemented across approximately 150 organisations with the Aeon group, commencing from March 2024. While the starting dates and compensation periods may vary, the retailer anticipates about 2,000 men and women taking advantage of the childcare leave in the first year alone.
Recognising the gap in existing childcare leave benefits, where employment insurance covers approximately 80% of the take-home pay, Aeon’s system aims to compensate employees for the remaining 20% upon their return to work.
Currently, only 15% of Aeon’s male employees take childcare leave, compared to nearly 100% of female employees.
Additionally, Aeon plans to establish a system addressing concerns about potential career setbacks due to extended leave. Personnel evaluations during childcare leave will only consider the relevant period before the employee’s absence from work, reported The Japan Times.
Aeon’s approach aligns with a broader trend in the corporate world towards more generous childcare leave policies. Suntory Holdings, for instance, aims to increase the percentage of male employees taking childcare leave to 100% by 2025, up from 85% in 2022. Furthermore, all eligible employees at Sapporo Breweries – both men and women – took childcare leave in 2023 after a programme which offered 100% of their pay for the first week, along with in-hour childcare advisory services.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare in June highlighted that 46.2% of male employees who became fathers during the previous business year took childcare leave.
The Japanese government has been actively promoting increased male participation in childcare leave as part of its measures to address declining birth rates, setting targets of 50% by 2025 and 85% by 2030.