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Japan – Revisions To The Handicapped Persons’ Employment Promotion Act.

27 September, 2013

 

The Handicapped Persons’ Employment Promotion Act, which aims to encourage the independence of handicapped persons, requires that all companies hire a certain percentage of persons with disabilities (legal employment rate). As of April 2013, this legal employment rate changed from 1.8 percent to 2.0 percent.


As a result, companies with more than 50 employees now must hire at least one handicapped person. If this obligation is violated, measures such as administrative guidance or public disclosure of the company name may be taken.


In addition, for companies with 200 or more employees (companies with 100 or more employees from April 2015), if the legal employment rate is not reached, a liability will be imposed for payment of JPY 50,000 per month for each handicapped person short of the legal employment rate, and this will be used as a subsidy for companies that have hired in excess of the legal employment rate. In addition to physical and intellectual disabilities, people with mental disabilities are now classified as “handicapped persons,” due to the emergence of mental health disorders in the Japanese workplace.


The further revised law, which was enacted on June 19, 2013, will come into effect in April 2017. The outline is as follows:


Outline of Revisions to the Handicapped Persons’ Employment Promotion Act


In addition to prohibiting discrimination against handicapped persons in the area of hiring, designating measures to redeem problems of handicapped persons in the workplace (obligation to provide reasonable attention) must be taken.


Guidelines toward ratifying a convention regarding the rights of handicapped persons:


1. Prohibiting discrimination of handicapped persons in the field of hiring.


2. Obligation to provide reasonable attention: for the employer, a requirement that measures be taken to redeem the problems for the handicapped persons in the workplace. However, cases where such measures result in a heavy burden for the employer are excluded e.g., desks for wheelchairs, concise written descriptions and/or diagrams for employees with physical disabilities, adding ramps and rails to building facilities, etc.


3. Handling complaints/supporting dispute resolution.


1) For employers to make an obligatory effort to voluntarily resolve the complaints arising from hiring handicapped persons according to 1 and 2 above.
2) For disputes associated with 1 and 2 above, developing the Special Law on Promoting the Resolution of Individual Labor-Related Disputes (mediations by the Dispute Coordinating Committees, recommendations by the Prefectural Labor Bureaus, etc.)


Regarding the length of employment contracts for handicapped persons, there is no legal regulation, and while some companies will hire as a regular employee with no fixed term, in reality there are many companies that enter into a fixed-term contract, such as for six months or one year, depending on the degree of disability.


The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has created guidelines and is attentive to considerations for the privacy of employees suffering from disabilities, particularly from mental disabilities. During the hiring stage, the employers are allowed to collect personal information only after disclosing the intended use of such personal information and obtaining consent from such candidates. Again, a declaration that is uniform to all employees should be used if a disability is to be assessed or verified after hire. It is only possible to identify and question an individual if he/she voluntarily requests information about public support of handicapped persons’ employment or usage of the company’s support system.


Orrick

 

For further information, please contact:
 
Elizabeth Cole, Partner, Orrick
ecole@orrick.com 

Mark Weeks, Partner, Orrick
mweeks@orrick.com


Yumiko Ohta, Orrick
yohta@orrick.com


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