Japan to Consider Minimum Wage for Freelancers

The Japanese government is considering imposing minimum wage for freelancers in support of such workers with unstable income. This, in part, is to prevent talents from being hoarded by corporations. However, several such workers have found it difficult to remain freelance workers due to its instability.

Since there isn’t any employment contracts with businesses, they are typically not covered by labor laws, including those that stipulate the maximum number of hours of work per day, the provision of regular health check-ups, and minimum wage requirements.

Personally, if I want to be protected by the number of working hours a day, I wouldn’t choose to do freelance. Not that the Japanese government is doing much to limit work hours. Besides, if I do not want to work that many hours, I can always reject an assignment as a freelancer, but not if I were an employee. So I do not see the necessity in controlling work hours for freelancers.

Some of the new laws that will be considered include requiring businesses to explicitly put on paper, the conditions of the assignments and turnaround time for payments instead of just verbal contracts, as there have been troubles of businesses not paying these workers. And minimum wage for each type of assignment will also be determined by law.

Currently, there are labor laws that protect such home workers as seamstresses where payment must be made within a month of completion of the assignment. This will provide reference to the erection of the new law for other freelancers.

There is an estimated 11 million freelance workers in Japan and this number is expected to increase. The passing of the bill is forecasted to be in 2021, and to avoid objections from corporations, it is necessary to proceed cautiously.

The extent to which the new law will cover is also in the spotlight as overbearing restrictions that limit working hours can defeat the purpose of freelancing, although I strongly think the government should not play any role in controlling the work hours of freelancers. For me, there are two main reasons to be a freelancer: 1) to command a higher pay per hour with unlimited income potential, 2) the freedom to control the number of hours I want to work. So I hope the government will not put their nose into my work hours and just focus on protecting the employed regarding this.

As part of the reformation of labor laws, the government expects to restrict the number of overtime work hours for employees to 720 hours a year starting 2019. If we remove the weekends at 104 days, 16 public holidays, 7 days of winter vacation and disregard annual leave and summer vacations, that will be a little over 3 hours of overtime work a day, every day. That is still a ridiculous amount of time to be spent working.

There doesn’t seem to be enough sincerity in imposing overtime working limits here, but that’s not a direct concern for me at the moment. Minimum wage does sound appealing. But again, that’s three years away, so who knows where I’ll be then?

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