A Checklist, and What Foreign Companies Need To Know
The Japanese government has published numerous guidelines regarding workplace harassment. There is growing intolerance of power harassment and other forms of harassment in Japan. Such harassment can happen anywhere in the world, however, it is an especially sensitive and important issue presently in Japan, and foreign companies and Managers must be aware and comply.
Foreign companies and Managers in Japan must understand the potential indicators of Power Harassment. The Japanese culture and working environment is often not easy to understand by foreign companies, and this checklist will help. A Labour lawyer recognized by the Japan Federation of Labor and Social Security Attorney’s Association created it and has made it available to Labour Attorneys such as Verse Corporation.
Understanding Harassment in Japan.
- Many western Manager behaviors may pass as acceptable in other countries, but not in Japan. Some of the checklist indicators will be obvious, others are more subtle, but no less important to avoid and/or correct in the Japanese workplace.
- If you are unsure if a certain behavior in your company is acceptable, or not, it’s best to consult a Labour Attorney.
- The checklist helps you identify Manager actions and/or employee feelings that could be interpreted as harassment. So you need to have both perspectives, those of managers and also of employees or subordinates.
Using the Checklist – Please Note.
- There is no precise scoring system, however, if a Manager or an employee answers “Yes” to any of these indicators, it should be investigated. Clearly, if multiple indicators are “Yes”, there is more urgency to deal with the offending Manager and the employees working under him/her.
- Employers and all Managers should use the checklist as a guideline to ensure a suitable and “safe” workplace environment – one that avoids the risk of employees feeling harassed, or inappropriately stressed.
- There is no correct way to implement the checklist. Companies & Managers are free to use this as they see fit. It can be a part of regular performance reviews, internal workplace surveys, etc. It can be used by Management and/or employees, and is a basis for constructive conversations and corrective action to ensure a safe workplace environment.
- Be aware that even when none of the checklist items are applicable, it does not ensure that there is no problem with a Manager. Also, workplace harassment does not always occur in a clear Manager/subordinate relationship – ie, it may occur between a Manager and a lower-level employee who is not a subordinate.
- Workplace harassment has many grey areas. It is always preferable for companies and their Managers to err on the side of the employee. In other words, if a Manager’s behavior is questionable, or in a way indicative of undue pressure or severity, it is best to correct such behavior.
- Labour Law Attorneys (Sharoushi) such as Verse support clients with advice on workplace harassment issues. We also support the establishment of “consultation desks” for Japanese branches, and the creation of prevention regulations, manuals and procedures.
Work Environment & Harassment Checklist
Check “Yes” if the behavior applies to you or has within the past year.
|Behavior / Actions / Situations:|
That potentially indicate harassment.
|I have taught my staff for more than 60 minutes in a row without breaks|
|I often direct with my staff standing up|
|I have hit the desk when instructing my staff|
|I have thrown things when instructing my staff|
|When instructing staff, most of the time, it is done in an open office instead of a private room|
|I sometimes cc instructing e-mails to all members of the same department or other departments|
|I’ve jokingly said, “ XYZ-san (another Manager) does a lot of power harassment.”|
|Colleagues or supervisors have said to me, “You are giving too much guidance,” or “You should moderate the severity of your instruction.”|
|My staff / subordinates have cried when I was instructing them|
|I have called my subordinates “you”, instead of addressing them with their name|
|I have called, or referred to subordinates “idiot,” “jerk,” “die,” or “scum”|
|I have made comments to subordinates such as “salary thief,” “you are unnecessary to the company,” “you are useless,” etc.|
|Subordinates have suffered from mental illness.|
|Staff have retired within 6 months of assignment under me.|
|Occasionally I send work emails / chats or phone calls to staff on holidays (ie indicating needs to be dealt with during the holidays)|
|I think, and/or encourage staff, that if they train themselves, they will be able to drink more.|
|I may pay attention to, and /or comment on my subordinate’s personal life.|
|I condone or encourage staff learn to steal / copy work from others.|
|I can’t honestly understand the ideas of young people who claim “power harassment” damage.|
|I often feel that my subordinates lack motivation and ability.|
|My subordinates rarely argue, or disagree with me, or express ideas to me.|
|To be honest, I think it was better in the old days when there were no words such as “power harassment”.|
|I want my staff to claim their rights (paid leave, overtime, etc.) only after fulfilling their obligations and having worked for long enough.|
|I don’t praise my subordinates because if I praise them, they will be satisfied with the status quo.|
|I once wanted to claim damages against staff who suddenly retired.|
|I’m not sure it’s common sense, let alone labor law, to use all paid leave when you resign.|
|I have worried about employees who don’t have boyfriends or girlfriends and have asked if they have a girlfriend (boyfriend).|
|I was worried that some employees had no children and asked, “Do you want children?”|
|I still can’t understand why there is male childcare leave, regardless of the labor law.|
|I don’t think it’s wrong to refuse a boss’s meal invitation, but I think it lacks common sense|
|I have forced my staff to write remorseful / apologetic documents and/or emails|
|I sometimes feel that transportation and gasoline costs of unsuccessful sales staff are wasteful|
|I think unmotivated employees should leave the company|
|I think not showing up to a company-sponsored drinking party is a sign of lack of cooperation|
|I often ask my staff to buy coffee and sweets for me|
|I have never caringly/emotionally given instruction to my staff|
|I think there are differences in aptitude depending on gender, nationality, race, etc|
|I think people with good performance can be asked to do anything|
|The first impression you get of a person indicates their character.|
|As for harassment, I can tell you that “our company could never have it.”|
|I am confident that I could never do power harassment|
|I consider myself to always be logical.|
|Sometimes I feel that people who are less capable than me are paid more than me|
|I get frustrated when my subordinates argue with me while I’m teaching them|
|I don’t care if my co-workers get angry with their bosses|
|I don’t think a subordinate who goes home earlier than me is a proper member of society.|
|There is an employee or board member in the company who is known for power harassment (sexual harassment), but I chose to do nothing about it.|
|I sometimes feel that my instruction is not understood and / or followed by my staff.|
|I get frustrated when I find typos in my subordinates writing.|
|Grammar is important: I feel that all the people around me lack language skills.|
|I feel that resumes should always be handwritten|
|I don’t want to allow working from home|
|Salespeople should meet in person and not online|