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Permanent employees, regular employees or the directly employed work for a single employer and are paid directly by that employer. In addition to their wages, they often receive benefits like subsidized health care, paid vacations, holidays, sick time, or contributions to a retirement plan. Permanent employees are often eligible to switch job positions within their companies. Even when employment is "at will", permanent employees of large companies are generally protected from abrupt job termination by severance policies, like advance notice in case of layoffs, or formal discipline procedures. They may be eligible to join a union, and may enjoy both social and financial benefits of their employment.
Rarely permanent employment means employment of an individual that is guaranteed throughout the employee's working life. In the private sector, such jobs are rare; permanent employment is far more common in the public sector, where profit and loss is not as important.
In Japan, the concept of lifetime employment (終身雇用 shushin koyo) originated in large companies around 1910 but became widespread in its strongest form during the economic growth period following World War II, beginning around 1955. Labor unions had reacted strongly to mass dismissals in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and court precedents restricted employers' rights to dismiss employees due to business difficulty.
Large-scale layoffs remain legally restricted and socially taboo in Japan; many large companies such as Sony, Panasonic, NEC and Toshiba deal with excess labor capacity by offering voluntary retirement programs and by sending unnecessary workers to "chasing-out rooms" where they are held with minimal work responsibilities until they decide to resign. The Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began examining possible loosening of the restrictions on layoffs in 2013.
- Koshiro, Kazutoshi. "Lifetime employment in Japan: three models of the concept". Foreign Labor Developments. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- Tabuchi, Hiroko (16 August 2013). "Layoffs Taboo, Japan Workers Are Sent to the Boredom Room". New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
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