Your rights as a foreign worker in a Japanese company dealing with COVID-19: Ministry of Labor Guidance

Japan’s Ministry of Labor has published guidance for foreign workers employed at Japanese companies to inform them of their rights in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Basically, your rights as a foreign worker are the same as in non-coronavirus times.

However, some companies are facing severe challenges as the state-of-emergency declaration starts to have an effect across Tokyo, Osaka, and five other prefectures. It is expected that more and more companies may temporarily close, forcing employees to be furloughed, at least through May 6th, when the state-of-emergency period ends.

The Ministry of Labor has issued guidance in Japanese and thirteen foreign languages to inform foreign workers of their rights in case their company institutes temporary measures to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.

Foreign workers to be treated the same as Japanese workers

Summary of Ministry of Labor guidance:

Even when the new coronavirus has caused a decrease in business to the company, companies are not allowed to treat foreign workers less favorably than Japanese workers just because they are foreigners.

  1. Companies must pay leave allowance to foreign workers, as well as Japanese workers, when they are forced to take days off from work by the company.
  2. The subsidy the national government pays companies to protect worker employment can be used for both Japanese and foreign workers.
  3. When you take days off from work because your children’s schools are closed, you can use paid vacation days, just like Japanese workers.
  4. Companies cannot freely fire you at will. When a company wants to fire a foreign worker, they must apply the same rules as for Japanese workers.

Screenshot of Ministry of Justice portal site to provide support for foreigners living in Japan. Source: Ministry of Justice. Please click the image to go to the website.

The Ministry advises foreign workers to consult your local labor bureau, labor standards supervision office or public employment security office (Hello Work) if you need help.

Employment Service Centers

Real Estate Japan provides the following information as a resource for our readers. We cannot vouch for their services.

Employment Service Centers for Foreigners

The Employment Service Centers for Foreigners listed below are run by the Ministry of Labor. They are public employment offices for foreigners living in Japan who want to find jobs at Japanese companies. Websites are in English.

Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners

Osaka Employment Service Center for Foreigners

Nagoya Employment Service Center for Foreigners


Source: Ministry of Justice, Information portal site to support foreigners living in Japan