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The Diet enacted a revision Thursday to the Equal Employment Opportunities Law for Men and Women that includes steps to curb sexual discrimination in the workplace.

Under the law approved by a plenary session of the Lower House, to take effect next April, employers will be banned from using indirect forms of sex discrimination and from giving disadvantageous treatment to employees who become pregnant or give birth.

The law bans three forms of indirect discrimination — namely, setting criteria for hiring of employees based on height and weight, hiring “career track” employees with the prerequisite that they can be transferred to anywhere in Japan, and looking at past transfer records in deciding on employees’ promotions — when those conditions are not related to the nature of the work.

Unions, however, are critical of limiting the instances of indirect discrimination to these three forms, saying they may imply other instances are not discrimination.

Before the revision, the law banned employers from terminating employment for women for the reason of pregnancy, childbirth or taking maternity leave.

Under the revised law, they will be prohibited from treating such employees unfavorably, including assigning them to a different section, downgrading them to part-timers or urging them to quit.

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