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Dai-ichi Life upends seniority with 4% pay raise for 14,000 staffers

Insurer becomes latest Japanese company to reward skills over age

Dai-ichi Life Insurance is overhauling how it pays and promotes employees.

TOKYO -- Japan's Dai-ichi Life Insurance intends to hike pay for skilled, productive workers regardless of age in its biggest personnel policy shake-up since listing.

The Tokyo-based insurer aims to raise total pay by 4% next fiscal year for around 14,000 employees after reaching an agreement during upcoming labor talks.

Many jobs will be reclassified into professional positions, breaking with its current system under which employees seek to climb the hierarchy into management based on length of service.

The insurer joins other companies, notably Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Toyota Motor, looking to end traditional seniority-based compensation and promotion practices.

The wage hike will exclude the Dai-ichi Life's sales force of roughly 40,000.

Dai-ichi Life, which listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2010 after operating for over a century as a mutual company, also will double the rate of professional midcareer hires. The retirement age will be raised to 65 from 60.

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