Revised laws seek to fortify the rights of employees and prevent all forms of harassment in the workplace

On Wednesday, Japan’s legislative branch of government – otherwise known as the Diet – enacted several revisions to at least five various laws in order to set up and/or strengthen measures against harassment in the workplace. In the fiscal year of 2017 alone, reports to labor bureaus about workplace abuse have already reached 72,000 – a record high for the past six years.

 

Due to these widespread reports of employers abusing their employees, the Diet has passed revisions in legislations that now require all companies from small stores to multi-national business conglomerates to extend their full cooperation in the government’s endeavour to eradicate workplace harassment.

 

Photo credit to: https://www.japantimes.co.jp

The head of Workplace Harassment Research Institute, Masaomi Kaneko, cites that “Although some behaviour had to some extent been considered excessive but permissible as a form of instruction, the new legislation will likely help curb extreme abuses of power.”

 

Among the revisions passed by the Diet reportedly include the prohibition of any form of ill treatment against employees that allege to have been victims of sexual harassment as well as those employees who make allegations against any senior personnel. The protection likewise extends to women who have availed of the maternity leave benefits and are ready to get back to work.

 

While reports indicate that the revised legislations have not yet prescribed any punitive measures against possible violators, these revisions are seen by many as an important step towards uplifting the rights of the employees. In a country where different forms of workplace harassment ran rampant for several years, these revisions – though not yet of a punitive nature – are certainly welcome additions to the working society.

 

Despite this positive outlook, Vice Senior Researcher Shino Naito from the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training still regrets the lack of any punitive measures for the recent revisions claiming that Japan already “lags behind the global standard, as the International Labor Organization is set to adopt a treaty to ban harassment in the near future.” Naito further states that “As harassment may have serious implications for victims, potentially driving them to suffer mental health issues or to engage in self-harm, Japan should introduce punitive measures as quickly as possible.”

 

Reference: Japan bolsters fight against workplace harassment, but laws lack punitive measures

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