A 38-year-old man in Japan has sued the firm he is working in for harassment after he took paternity leave. The man took the case to Tokyo Court on September 12 against his employer Asics, a sportswear maker. He has stated that the company penalised him for taking paternity leave, despite being allowed to do so legally as the government allowed it to give a boost to the birthrate. He took parental leave twice, once in 2015 and then in 2018 for both of his children. The man decided to remain anonymous after he faced backlash on social media with users calling him selfish for taking year-long leaves. The firm, however, denied any such allegations by the man.
The Japanese employee claimed that he experienced ‘pata-hara’ which means paternity harassment in short in Japanese. The man said that after he returned from his first paternity leave, he was given jobs in the office that were nowhere related to his skills. Though he could later return to the main office but could feel there was a pressure on him to resign from the job. He blamed Asics of taking an unreasonable action on him in order to scare other people so they do not take the paternity leave. The man while speaking to a news agency said that he had to raise the voice as there are many men who want to look after their child properly but are unable to do so due to their workplace mistreatment.
Japan is a country that is struggling with one of the lowest birthrates in the world. The law over there offers ample of maternity and paternity leaves and its policies are considered one of the most generous ones in the world. Both parents are provided leaves up to one year and six months additional if they are unable to find proper childcare. About 80 per cent of the women are able to take the maternity leave but as per the government data, only 6 per cent men get the liberty to take the leave.
According to the activists in the country, the fathers are unable to take leaves partially because of the pressure from employers and also because their society supports long working hours. The unnamed man's lawyer speaking to the foreign news agency said that the fathers get a lot of criticism from employers if they take paternity leave even though they are entitled by the government. The paternity leave gets government subsidies and the employer doesn't pay for it. Japan government is trying its best to boost the birth rate by offering subsidies, however, the employers still shame fathers who take paternity leave.