Income cap hinders nurses’ role in administering COVID-19 vaccines in Japan – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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Income cap hinders nurses’ role in administering COVID-19 vaccines in Japan

Written by on June 23, 2021

In late May, a nurse in Miyagi Prefecture sent a letter to Kahoku Shimpo, complaining that she had to give up on helping administer coronavirus vaccines — despite a shortage of qualified medical workers — due to what is called the “Y1.3 million income hurdle.”

Under the current system, if a spouse earns less than Y1.3 million a year, they can be exempt from pension premium payments and be covered by the main earner’s corporate pension plan. This means that spouses who earn ¥1.3 million or more need to pay for premiums for pension and health care.

The Miyagi nurse currently works as a part-timer below the Y1.3 million income threshold as her husband’s dependent. And she is one of many part-time medical workers who has been unable to assist with the vaccine rollout because of the income cap.

Aware of the situation, Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the nation’s vaccination rollout, said during a Diet session on May 10 that a temporary income bump from administering vaccines would not disqualify people from the pension premium exemption.

Delighted, the woman decided to help out with the vaccine rollout, only to be told by her husband’s workplace that she would be disqualified if her annual income exceeds Y1.3 million.

It turned out that despite Kono’s remark, the central government did not issue a notice of the policy change in an official document, creating confusion between medical workers and corporate health care unions.

It was not until June 4 that the health ministry made an announcement of the policy change in line with Kono’s remark. – Japan Times

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