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  5. Draft Guidelines for Secure Working Conditions for Freelancers, Results of Call for Public Comments Released and Finalized Guidelines Compiled

Draft Guidelines for Secure Working Conditions for Freelancers, Results of Call for Public Comments Released and Finalized Guidelines Compiled

March 26, 2021

From December 24 (Thur.), 2020, to January 25 (Mon.), 2021, the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency (SMEA) opened a call for public comments on the Draft Guidelines for Secure Working Conditions for Freelancers. On March 26, 2021, SMEA hereby makes public the results of the call. Moreover, in joint name with the Cabinet Secretariat, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), SMEA and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), it formulated and hereby releases a finalized version of the 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 people’s healthy lifespans, and increasing participants in the workforce overall to bolster social security.

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 in an integrated manner. 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.

Additionally, 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 decided to formulate guidelines in order to clarify how the relevant acts and labor-related laws and regulations are applied to trade relationships between businesses and freelancers. 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 such relationships. Following this, SMEA prepared draft guidelines for these purposes and, from December 24 (Thur.), 2020, to January 25 (Mon.), 2021, opened a call for public comments.

On March 26, 2021, SMEA hereby makes public the results of the call, and, in joint name with the Cabinet Secretariat, the JFTC, SMEA and MHLW, it formulated and hereby releases a finalized version of the guidelines.

2. 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 freelancers 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)

3. Related material

4. Links to related information

Results of the call for public comments on the Draft Guidelines for Secure Working Conditions for Freelancers

Division in Charge

Fair Trade Division, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency