Japanese employer extends spousal benefits to same-sex partners

same sex

Japanese organisation Rakuten has extended the benefits available to employees’ spouses to same-sex partners.

The e-commerce organisation has revised the definition of “marriage” and “spouse” in its internal employment regulations in order to recognise same-sex partners.

The organisation, which has a total of 13,000 employees globally, approved the internal employment policy amendments at a board of directors meeting on 22 July 2016. Previously, Rakuten only recognised a marriage certificate under Japanese law. Same-sex marriage is not currently legal in Japan.

The employee benefits that will now be extended to same-sex partners include congratulation leave when partners officiate their relationship, and condolence leave in the event of a partner’s death, as well as consolation payments.

The changes form part of the organisation’s wider efforts to focus on the individual needs of employees, including the establishment of a diversity and inclusion group.

A review of spousal definitions was conducted following requests from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, and in recognition of the global nature of the organisation and the increasing number of non-Japanese staff.

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The organisation also runs an LGBT network, which was launched by volunteers, LGBT employees, and LGBT allies in June 2016.

Akio Sugihara, chief people officer and managing executive officer at Rakuten, said: “Rakuten brings together people from many different backgrounds and we are proud to support and provide a diverse and inclusive workplace with services and benefits that recognise same-sex partners.”