TOKYO (Reuters) – A male worker is suing sportswear maker Asics Corp (7936.T) for alleged mistreatment after taking paternity depart, a case that has shone a highlight on gender equality and staff’ rights in Japan.
FILE PHOTO: An worker of Asics Corp, who requests anonymity and avoids exhibiting his face in photos, poses for throughout an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Ritsuko Ando
The lawsuit filed by a 38-year-old man – who says he was harassed by his employer after taking parental depart in 2015 and 2018 that’s legally accessible to all staff however not often utilized by males – is scheduled to start in a Tokyo court docket on Thursday.
Asics denies the allegations.
The person requested anonymity due to a Twitter backlash from customers who accuse him of being egocentric for taking a 12 months of depart for every of his two youngsters.
“I’d been considering, I’m going to be a salaryman for one thing like 40 years, so what’s a 12 months or two of depart in comparison with that,” he advised Reuters in an interview.
Japan’s parental depart insurance policies are among the many world’s most beneficiant, offering women and men partial-paid depart of as much as a 12 months, or extra if there isn’t a public childcare. Few males take it.
The case highlights the problem of bolstering the position of girls within the office, championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Womenomics” program, in a society the place social norms discourage males from taking over baby rearing or home tasks.
“There are many individuals who wish to take childcare depart, because it’s their proper, however they can not as a result of their office makes it tough. Somebody needed to communicate up,” the Asics worker mentioned.
The person says he was transferred to a warehouse operated by an Asics subsidiary after he returned from his first paternity depart.
It was not an official demotion or a pay reduce, however the job concerned carrying and unloading heavy bins — a giant change from his earlier position in Asics’ personnel division.
He employed a lawyer and complained to his bosses. Asics allowed him to return to a desk job, however gave him what he mentioned have been meaningless duties, reminiscent of translating firm pointers into English.
That scenario has continued because the finish of his second parental depart earlier this 12 months, he mentioned.
Asics mentioned it had tried unsuccessfully to barter with the employee’s authorized and union representatives, and “seems ahead to creating the reality clear” in court docket.
A Gold Companion sponsor for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the corporate payments itself as a socially progressive and inclusive firm.
“We put effort into fostering range, and we are going to proceed to make higher efforts to make sure our work atmosphere and insurance policies permit individuals to stay energetic by means of being pregnant, start and childcare,” Asics mentioned in an announcement to Reuters.
The Asics case follows different comparable disputes.
Glen Wooden, a former fairness gross sales supervisor at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley in Tokyo, is suing the brokerage for harassment after he returned from paternity depart. The corporate has denied the allegations.
Chemical agency Kaneka Corp (4118.T) was criticized in June after an worker’s spouse mentioned on social media her husband was advised to maneuver from Tokyo to the corporate’s Osaka workplace after taking a month of parental depart and denied his request for a postponement.
Kaneka has mentioned the relocation was acceptable and never punishment for taking paternity depart. The employee has since give up.
The circumstances have given rise to a brand new phrase, “patahara”, brief for paternity harassment and modeled on the extra widespread time period “matahara”, or maternity harassment, used to explain abuse skilled by working moms.
Labor lawyer Yoshitatsu Imaizumi, who’s representing Wooden, mentioned such lawsuits are uncommon as a result of few male staff really feel they’ll take motion.
“You might say we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg in that there are a lot of extra individuals who wish to take childcare depart, however really feel they’ll’t, or run into bother once they attempt,” he mentioned.
Solely 6 p.c of eligible fathers took childcare depart final 12 months, and most of them took lower than per week off, in line with authorities information.
Whereas the take-up is double the three p.c price of some years in the past, it’s far wanting the 13 p.c goal set by the federal government for 2020.
The federal government is struggling to fulfill different gender equality targets, reminiscent of ladies occupying a 3rd of company and public sector management roles by subsequent 12 months. Ladies presently maintain simply four% of company board seats, in line with Tokyo Shoko Analysis.
Niki Harada, president of the Tokyo Youth Union which represents younger staff, mentioned males have been starting to grapple with a few of the similar points confronted by ladies for many years.
“As extra males participate in rearing youngsters, the disadvantages that girls have been experiencing, round having youngsters and taking childcare depart, at the moment are being skilled by males,” he mentioned.
Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; enhancing by Darren Schuettler