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Japan’s Uber Eats delivery staff to get worker insurance coverage

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The labor ministry’s Labor Policy Council on Friday approved a proposal to allow bicycle-based delivery staff for Uber Eats and similar service platforms to join workers’ accident compensation insurance programs under a special coverage system.

The insurance programs cover medical costs for people who are injured during work and leave compensation.

Such workers, as well as freelance information technology engineers, will be able to participate in the insurance programs under the special system from September after the ministry revises a related ordinance.

There are around 90,000 bicycle delivery workers in Japan, according to the Japan Food Delivery Service Association. Delivery staff who work as sole proprietors may be unable to receive sufficient compensation if they are involved in traffic and other accidents during work.

Beginning in September, such workers will be able to join the accident compensation insurance programs after they apply for them and pay premiums.

Regarding criticisms of bad driving by some delivery staff, officials of the association said at Friday’s meeting of a subgroup of the ministry council that it plans to raise safety awareness among delivery workers through related seminars.

The number of freelance IT engineers stands at roughly 200,000 in the country, and some have suffered mental illnesses due to stress from long hours of work or complained of other health issues.

Also at the meeting, a plan was revealed saying that deliverers using scooters, who are now allowed to join the insurance programs under the special coverage system based on a relevant notification, should be able to do so under the revised ministry ordinance.

While the workers’ insurance programs are for employed people, the special system allows those working without belonging to specific organizations to be covered.

Broadly, the government is stepping up the protection of freelancers. In April, actors, animators and judo therapists were added to the list of those accessible to workers’ insurance programs under the special coverage system.

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