JILPT Research Report No.206
Content Analysis of Labor Standards Inspection Documents Related to Worker Status

February 10, 2021


Research Objective

To shed light on the actual state of application of the criteria for determining worker status defined in A Report by the Study Group on the Labor Standards Act (1985)* through content analysis of cases related to worker status (rōdōshasei) handled by Labor Standards Inspection Offices.

*Rōdō kijyun hō kenkyu kai hōkoku-sho (A Report by the Study Group on the Labor Standards Act), 1-13, (Ministry of Labour, 1985).

Research Method

Conducting content analysis of documents—any inspection reports (kantoku fukumeisho) or declaration handling records (shinkoku shori daichō) containing the terms “worker status” and/or “sole proprietors” (kojinjigyōnushi)—provided by the government body for labor standards inspection.

Key Findings

Of the total 122 cases involving a determination of worker status, worker status was recognized in 27 cases (22.1%) and not recognized in 37 cases (30.3%), while in 58 cases (47.5%), no decision regarding worker status was reached. That is to say, almost half of the cases did not see a decision regarding worker status, and in the cases where a decision regarding worker status was made, the negative judgments exceed the positive judgments. The report provides further analysis by occupation and industry.

Policy Implications

With the rapid development of information and communication technology in recent years, the question of how to treat those who engage in new forms of employment¬―who are not defined as “employees” in their contracts, but whose actual working arrangements differ little from conventional arrangements based on employment contracts—is arising as a major policy issue common to countries around the world. In the Action Plan of the Growth Strategy approved by the Cabinet on July 17, 2020, the section “Improving the Conditions for Freelance Work” states that the aim is to clarify that in cases of “employment” under the current law “labor-related laws and regulations apply, in addition to the application of the Act on Prohibition of Private Monopolization and Maintenance of Fair Trade, regardless of the type of contract.” The Implementation Plan for Regulatory Reform published on the same day similarly states that “through the Labor Standards Inspection Offices and other means, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will make the criteria for determining worker status widely known in a comprehensible manner, and, where problems are identified, seek to correct those problems.” Given such approaches, providing a clear account of worker status-related cases directly handled by the labor standards inspection authorities is highly significant for policy development.

Policy Contribution

Utilization for formulating guidelines on improving the conditions for freelance work

Main Text (available only in Japanese)

  • JILPT Research Report No.206, full text (PDF: 2.1MB)
    • Cover – Preface – Authors – Contents
    • Introduction: Objectives and Overview of Survey Research
    • Chapter 1: Overall State of Inspection Cases Related to Worker Status
    • Chapter 2: Analysis of Worker Status-Related Inspection Cases by Occupation and Industry
    • Appendix 1: Rōdō kijyun hō no rōdōsha no handan kijyun ni tsuite (“Criteria for determining ‘worker’ under the Labor Standards Act”) in Rōdō kijyun hō kenkyu kai hōkoku-sho (“A Report by the Study Group on the Labor Standards Act”) (December 19, 1985)
    • Appendix 2: Kensetsugyō temauke jyūjisha oyobi geinōkankeisha ni kansuru rōdōkijyun hō no rōdōsha no handan kijyun ni tsuite (“Criteria for determining ‘worker’ under the Labor Standards Act with regard to the construction industry workers on labor-based pay and those in the entertainment industry”) in Rōdō kijyun hō kenkyukai rōdōkeiyaku nado hōseibukai rōdōshasei kentō senmonbukai hōkoku (“Report of the Special Committee on Investigating Worker Status of the Subgroup on Legislation on Labor Contracts, etc. of the Study Group on the Labor Standards Act”) (March 1996)

Research Categories

Emergency survey

Research Period

April 2019 - March 2020


HAMAGUCHI, Keiichiro
Research Director General, The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training

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