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  5. Seishain(Regular Employee): Definition and Origin

2010 Vol.2
Seishain(Regular Employee): Definition and Origin


The term seishain (regular employee) started being commonly used around 1980, and is thought to result from the rise in numbers of part-timers at that time. Historically speaking, in the prewar period, being a seishain was equivalent to having an elite status; however, in the postwar period, it was gradually perceived as being an ordinary worker. The concept of seishain as an employment status became further prevalent in the early 1980s.
This article focuses on the evolution of the definition of seishain. Statistical descriptions of seishain are discussed first, and then the evolution of the definition is examined in terms of job benefits and duties. Job benefits, which refer to the working conditions offered by employers to employees, can be divided into three elements: (1) stable long-term employment, (2) a salary with regular pay raises based on performance assessment, and (3) opportunities for promotion. That is, a seishain is guaranteed stable employment over the long term, and by working earnestly, he or she will not only receive increased salary, but also opportunities for promotion.
In exchange for such benefits offered to their employees, companies demand them to perform duties as seishain. The scope of responsibilities for a seishain is not clearly defined (i.e., duties are all-inclusive), and it therefore goes without saying that seishain must work according to the varying demands of their employer at different times. Companies’instructions regarding overtime work, assignment to a different position, and transfers to a different workplace location are absolute, and employees’requests are considered only partially. This way of viewing a seishain reveals that each element hardly emerged all of a sudden. Generally speaking, the definition of seishain was established during the period of rapid economic growth after a long historical process, and became universal during the period of stable growth in the 1980s. It should be noted that the job benefits and duties of seishain discussed in this article are based on a single-earner household model and need to be reassessed from the perspective of equal employment opportunities for men and women.