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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 24 - 30  > Abe gov’t seeks to promote business-oriented policy on gig work
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2019 July 24 - 30 [LABOR]

Abe gov’t seeks to promote business-oriented policy on gig work

July 30, 2019
A survey which the Cabinet Office conducted the other day shows that an estimated 3.41 million people are working as freelancers outside of conventional employment options. This figure includes workers engaged in side jobs.

The Prime Minister Abe Shinzo-led government has promoted the use of freelance workers. In recent years, the state has insisted on the need to expand a new type of employment which hires independent contractors through the Internet to perform on-demand jobs. Those who work on demand are also known as “gig workers”. This working style, however, has been criticized for causing many problems, including unfairly poor pay for services performed by contractors.

The Abe Cabinet in June approved the so-called big-boned policy (Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform) in which the government seeks to encourage the general public to choose freelance work as one of work style options. The government expressed its intent to establish a legal framework regarding freelance work with the aim of ensuring transparency and fairness for trading and other practices in business-to-freelancer relations. The government, however, took a stance respecting the self-initiative of businesses when discussing new rules.

Freelancers and gig workers, who are regarded as non-traditional workers, are excluded from protection under labor laws. Accordingly, they are unable to exercise their labor rights, such as the application of minimum wage rules and entitlement to pregnancy and parental leave.

Although freelancers and gig workers stand on an equal footing with user companies under a contract, they work under direct instructions and directions from recipient companies. In addition, they easily lose their jobs because their contract is made on an on-demand basis. Corporations use on-demand workers as disposable labor.

The International Labor Organization has warned of the possibility that the promotion of gig work will create “digital day laborers”. ILO in its annual conference in June adopted the “Centenary Declaration for Future Work” and called on member states to promote decent work for all through measures and actions in response to digitalization in the world of work.

Past related articles:
> Freelance-work industry will expand unstable jobs, threatening people's safety [May 30, 2018]
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