More legal safeguards for freelancers in Japan

The government is planning to require more companies to provide written contracts when they hire freelancers.
By: | August 17, 2021

Under the proposed new law governing subcontracting, companies with over 10 million yen (US$91,214) in capital will be required to provide written contracts when commissioning work to freelancers.

The written contracts must clearly indicate details such as fee amounts and payment dates. Companies with 10 million yen (US$91,214) or less in capital are exempt from the requirement. 

The proposed new law will be submitted in a revised bill in next year’s Diet session. 

This move comes after a government survey conducted in February and March last year which showed that about 40% of freelancers experienced difficulties such as unsettled payments or unilateral changes of delivery dates after they received commissions from companies. 

About 60% of freelancers who experienced trouble with commissions said their work agreements were only made orally. There were no written contracts exchanged or emailed. Where there were written documents, details were often insufficient for freelancers to mount a complaint, leading many freelancers to give up. 

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The government will further investigate the scale of the issue regarding companies which commission freelancers. And based on the data collected, officials will review the criteria for companies that will have to meet the requirement to issue written contracts. 

Japan has about 4.62 million freelancers, and this number is likely to increase. They work in a wide range of occupations, including computer programming, interpreting and writing, according to The Japan News.