Panasonic to recognize people in same-sex unions


From April, Panasonic Corp. will recognize its employees in same-sex unions, possibly conferring on them the paid leave and other benefits currently enjoyed by married employees, a company official said Thursday.

The change in policy was prompted by requests from its employees and the International Olympic Committee’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation under its Olympic Charter. The Osaka-based company has been a principal Olympic sponsor.

Few Japanese companies have taken such a bold step, but with the group’s global workforce of about 250,000, Panasonic could motivate other firms to follow suit.

Panasonic is considering changing the definitions of “marriage” and “partner” under its work rules and making those in same-sex marriages eligible for not only paid leave for family events but other welfare benefits as well, the official said.

Employees newly married to a partner of the same sex could also be eligible for gift money from the company.

The company also plans to place a nondiscrimination clause on sexual orientation in its employee code of conduct.

Because only a handful of local administrations in Japan are currently issuing certificates recognize same-sex partnerships as being equivalent to marriage, Panasonic is still trying to determine what kind of documentation it will require to recognize same-sex unions by employees living elsewhere, according to the official.