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Over 1 in 10 men have experienced ‘paternity harassment’: survey

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

More than 1 in 10 working men have experienced “paternity harassment,” in which they have been barred from taking child care leave or subjected to harassment for even applying, according to a survey released by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo).

Rengo, the nation’s biggest umbrella body for labor unions, polled 1,000 men aged between 20 and 59 on paternity harassment, a relatively new term referring to problems dads face when they try to balance work and family.

The results show a staggering gap between the government’s push for a family-friendly working environment and workplace realities, where child-rearing is still widely considered a women’s job, Rengo said Thursday.

The survey found that 11.6 percent of the respondents with children, who numbered 525, said they have experienced paternity harassment, including 5.5 percent whose requests for paternity leaves were rejected.

Meanwhile, 3.8 percent of those polled said they were told by their boss that taking paternity leave would damage their career and 1.9 percent were subjected to other kinds of harassment, according to the survey.

A further 10.8 percent of the respondents reported they have seen colleagues suffer paternity harassment, the findings showed.

Of the 61 men who endured paternity harassment, 65.6 percent said they gave up taking paternity leave without consulting anyone, followed by 13.1 percent who asked friends outside their companies for advice.

Only 6.6 percent turned to the personnel or legal sections in their companies, while another 6.6 percent of the respondents said they consulted their labor union.

The survey found that a lack of understanding by co-workers was the No. 1 reason men found it difficult to take time off for child-rearing and the results suggest that working men in general need to be more aware of their rights.

Only 69 percent of the men surveyed knew of the Child Care and Family Care Leave Law, which allows both mothers and fathers to take child-care leave until their child turns 18 months old.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, as of fiscal 2011 only 2.6 percent of fathers with a baby took the leave, while the government has set the goal of raising the percentage to 10 percent by 2017.