Toyota Introduces Work-At-Home Program for New Moms in Japan
Every country is different when it comes to rights for pregnant women and new parents. Some countries, like the United States and Papua New Guinea, provide no paid parental leave; while others, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, provide between 26 and 51 weeks. In Japan, new mothers are given 14 weeks of maternity leave at 67% of their regular wages, but what happens at the end of those 14 weeks? A mother is forced to choose between leaving the workforce, or going back to her job and finding childcare for her baby. And it’s not always an easy decision.
Toyota in Japan has been considering this conundrum, and simultaneously wondering how it can meet its goal of tripling the number of women in managerial positions by 2020. As a result, the automaker has come up with a work-from-home plan that mothers can take advantage of once their maternity leave is up.
The work-from-home program allows office workers in charge of general and personnel affairs, or technical personnel involved in development, to work from home the majority of the time during their children’s first year of life. The idea is that this will give parents more time to bond with their babies and figure out a good long-term child-care system that will work for their family without being rushed into a decision.
One stipulation of the program is that employees are required to hire babysitters or enlist the help of parents or other family members to watch their children while they are home, so that they can concentrate on work. To help with this, Toyota is considering helping employees out with the cost of childcare, which can be considerable. Employees are also expected to go into the office at least once a week for a total of two hours.
With the introduction of this program, Toyota joins other Japanese companies like Nissan, who already have similar programs in place and have found them to be successful.
Now if the US would just catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to maternity leave, perhaps similar programs could be introduced here to persuade women to stay in the workforce, rather than quit or switch to part-time work as many are forced to do.