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  5. Call for Public Comments toward Formulation of Draft Guidelines for Secure Working Conditions for Freelancers

Call for Public Comments toward Formulation of Draft Guidelines for Secure Working Conditions for Freelancers

December 24, 2020

Based on the Action Plan of the Growth Strategy on which a Cabinet Decision was made in July 2020, the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency (SMEA), jointly with the Cabinet Secretariat, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), have been advancing formulation of effective, easy-to-understand guidelines for a variety of acts as well as clarifying practices considered to be problematic under the relevant labor-related laws and regulations. The acts in question include the Act on Prohibition of Private Monopolization and Maintenance of Fair Trade, and the Act against Delay in Payment of Subcontract Proceeds to Subcontractors. Clarification of practices, often considered problematic intends to help promote fair trade relationships between businesses and freelancers.

Against this backdrop, METI formulated draft guidelines, and from December 24 (Thur.), 2020, to January 25 (Mon.), 2021, it opens a call for public comments on the draft guidelines.

1. Background to formulating the guidelines

Freelancers are anticipated to become contributors to: facilitating diverse working styles, encouraging more companies to employ the elderly brought about by expansion of the gig economy (an employment style in which individuals receive temporary or one-off jobs via the internet), extending the healthy lifespan of people, and increasing the number of workers who bolster social security and increase the workforce overall.

From February to March 2020, the Cabinet Secretariat and related ministries and agencies collaborated in conducting a survey to ascertain the current situations of freelancers. Based on the results of the survey, the Planning Meeting on a Social Security System Oriented to All Generations held discussions on future directions of related policies.

Moreover, in the Action Plan of the Growth Strategy, on which a Cabinet Decision was made in July 2020, the government set a goal that Japan should comprehensively develop rules for protecting freelancers in order to develop environments in which freelancers are able to work securely.

In light of these efforts, the government, in joint name with the Cabinet Secretariat, JFTC, SMEA and MHLW, decided to formulate effective, easy to understand guidelines in order to clarify how the relevant acts and labor-related laws and regulations are applied. The acts in question include the Act on Prohibition of Private Monopolization and Maintenance of Fair Trade and the Act against Delay in Payment of Subcontract Proceeds to Subcontractors. The Guidelines also intend to clarify practices considered to be problematic under these laws and regulations with regard to the relationships between businesses and freelancers.

Against this backdrop, the SMEA developed the “Draft Guidelines for Developing Environments in which Freelancers are Able to Work Securely” and hereby opens a call for public comments on the draft guidelines.

2. Procedures to submit public comments

The draft guidelines subject to the call for public comments are shown in Appendix 1.

The period of the call is from December 24 (Thur.), 2020, to January 25 (Mon.), 2021.

For details on how to submit public comments and other information, see Appendix 3 “Submission Guidance on the Call.”

3. Contact offices for the guidelines

(1) Information on the position of the guidelines, Part 1 “Introduction” and Part 2 “Basic approaches”:

Secretariat of the Committee on the Growth Strategy, Cabinet Secretariat (in charge of employment and human resources)
Telephone: 03-3581-9252 (direct line)

(2) Information on Part 3 “Matters that businesses trading with freelances should observe,” Part 4 “Matters that intermediate agencies should observe” and “Appendix: Samples of written contracts under the guidelines”:

Economic Research Office, General Affairs Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, General Secretariat, JFTC
Telephone: 03-3581-4919 (direct line)

Information on samples of written contracts, in particular:

Fair Trade Division, Business Environment Department, SMEA
Telephone: 03-3501-1669 (direct line)

(3) Information on Part 5 “Criteria for determining whether or not the target case corresponds to ‘employment’ under the current laws”:

Home Work Division, Employment Environment and Equal Employment Bureau, MHLW
Telephone: 03-3595-3273 (direct line)

4. References

Division in Charge

Fair Trade Division, Business Environment Department, SMEA