Japan: Freelance, LGBTQ workers remain vulnerable to workplace abuse despite new anti-harassment law

Author: Kyodo News, Published on: 19 May 2020

"FOCUS: Freelance, LGBT wary of Japan's new anti-harassment law", 17 May 2020

With a new law aimed at stopping harassment in the work place set to enter into force in Japan in June, freelance workers and sexual minorities are casting a wary eye on how effective it will be in improving their situation...

The law requires firms to take measures against harassment by people in positions of power, with a government guideline designating such acts as including physical and psychological attacks, making excessive demands and isolating workers from others.

But only large firms will initially be subjected to the law, with smaller firms set to follow in April 2022, and the government will not require companies to extend the measures to freelance workers as they are not regarded as employees.

...A mail survey by Kyodo News, conducted between January and February targeting 110 firms, found 48 firms do not plan on taking measures to prevent harassment against freelance workers, with some saying there is no need as they do not employ such workers.

Meanwhile, 53 firms said they have already implemented measures or plan on doing so, with many saying they are taking measures regardless of whether workers are regular employees or on a contract or part-time basis.

...The government guideline says the outing of and insults about a person's sexual orientation and gender identification are a type of "power harassment" that should be covered by the new law. They also call for people's privacy to be protected.

The new law comes amid a rise in the number of students who include their sexual identity when applying for a job and as more companies try to accommodate their needs.

...But weeks before the law's enforcement, there continues to be harassment by people in power positions against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

...Some have complained their sexual identity has been revealed against their wishes by their boss, while others say they were laughed at for "acting like a woman"...

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