March 14, 2017 7:45 am JST

Japan eyes unemployment insurance for freelancers

Private-sector coverage would tide workers over in dry periods

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will work with major private insurers to create unemployment insurance for freelance workers, aiming to support the growing number of people in unconventional work arrangements.

Advances in information technology have swelled the ranks of freelancers around the world. In Japan, many freelance in fields including system development, web design and translation. But individuals not working as full-fledged company employees tend to receive little in the way of benefits.

The government seeks to change this. It will develop polices in cooperation with nonlife insurers to ensure that freelancers have income between jobs or when taking time off to care for children. Individuals would also qualify for up to 50% off on premiums by joining a national freelancers' association launched this year.

Official guidelines will be drawn up next fiscal year for companies that work with freelancers. As things stand, many businesses unilaterally set pay rates and other conditions. The government will push for companies to sign contracts in advance and otherwise give freelancers more say.

A number of other initiatives in support of freelancers are planned, such as urging banks to approve more mortgages for home-based workers.

(Nikkei)

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