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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 May 30 - June 5  > Freelance-work industry will expand unstable jobs, threatening people's safety
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2018 May 30 - June 5 [ECONOMY]

Freelance-work industry will expand unstable jobs, threatening people's safety

May 30, 2018

The Abe government is intending to allow the private sector to use more freelance workers on the grounds that their "diverse and flexible work styles" outside employment relations will contribute to boosting corporate productivity.

In collaboration with the business community, the government is now promoting the freelance-work economy. Companies such as Uber and Airbnb are platform business models, mediating on the Internet, for example, car allocation by matching drivers with passengers, and accommodations by matching landlords with tourists.

These kinds of businesses exempt such online companies from building employment relationships with those who provide rides or who offer rooms. They are treated as solo-proprietors or freelancers, not as "workers".

To companies, this arrangement is very attractive as they do not have to offer employment contracts or contribute to unemployment/workman's compensation insurance premiums. Both the Labor Standards Act and the Minimum Wage Act do not apply, so companies can use freelancers as long as they want and can unilaterally terminate them at any time. The freelancers outside employment contracts are cheap and useful for companies. They are just "convenient workers" from a corporate perspective.

Uber is most famous for its ride-hailing service. After Uber began this service in New York City, the number of unlicensed NYC taxis jumped tenfold. Accordingly, drivers' incomes have drastically decreased.

Uber's reckless management style has come under public criticism in much of the world, especially in Europe. Uber is being forced to retreat from European countries. Uber is now keen on getting into the Japanese market. In February, the Uber CEO came to Japan and met with Prime Minister Abe.

Platform businesses being promoted by Abe and Japanese business circles will give the highest priority to corporate profits, threatening the existing protection of workers and people's safety.

Past related article:
> Japan is testing ground for multinationals: PM Abe [May 23&25, 2018]
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