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5. Managing COVID-19-Related Employee Issues

Management of quarantine, childcare and medical leave for employees affected by COVID-19.

No specific rights or obligations arise out COVID-19. If an employee is too sick to work in general, they should and would be asked to take sick leave. There is no statutory obligation to pay salary for sick leave. However, if an employee is "able to continue working" but the employer orders the employee to take a leave of absence based on its own judgment and in light of its obligations to provide a safe working environment (including the situation where the employee is infected or suspected of being infected, or has had close contact with an infected person but is not yet reasonably suspected of being infected), the case is considered as furlough, where the payment referred to in section VI part a. (below) is obliged. There is no statutory right to paid or unpaid leave or to look after school-age children affected by COVID-19. The government is providing special benefits to employers that provide extra paid leave for parents, who have children affected by school closures relating to the COVID-19 crisis, for the period from 27 February to 30 June 2020.

Employees who fear infection and refuse to work.

An employee may not refuse to attend to their place of work unless ordered to do so by the employer, regardless of any actual or perceived risk of infection. The employee could also take paid annual leave, but the employer must not coerce the employee to do so. The company’s works rules should set out the procedures for requesting and granting leave.

Disclosure of employees who are infected.

Employers need to be particularly careful that they do not inadvertently disclose an employee’s medical condition without the employee’s consent, e.g. by having them work from home where it could be deduced by others that the employee is infected with COVID-19. An exception for a data folder (an employer or medical professional in respect of an employee’s health data) could be applied for the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19, if the acquisition or transfer is considered to be necessary for the protection of the life, health, or property of an individual and it is difficult to obtain the consent of the data subject, or as required by a state agency or a local government to perform their legal duties, or by an individual or a business operator entrusted by either of them for that purpose, and obtaining the consent of the data subject is likely to impede the performance of those duties.

Other issues.

The Japanese government has banned foreigners from entry into Japan (including those with work permits, and those with spousal visas or permanent residency who left Japan on or after 3 April 2020) if within the 14 days before entry, they have been in any of the 111 countries and regions on a list issued by the Ministry of Justice; these countries include the US, the UK and most EU nations. These rules are subject to change.

Any questions

Ask our member firm Atsumi & Sakai in Japan