A former employee of the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo was retroactively enrolled in Japan's employment insurance scheme on the order of the state-run job consultation office, allowing her to secure benefits she was previously denied when the embassy failed to sign her up, her labor union said Monday.

The woman was hired as a local clerical worker by the embassy in June 2021 and gave birth in January 2023. Although she took 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, she was unable to access further childcare leave benefits as the embassy did not take the legally mandated step of signing her up for employment insurance.

File photo shows the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo in March 2023. (Kyodo)

She consulted the Public Employment Security Office in September 2023 and was told she qualified for employment insurance, according to the General Union.

She was given an insurance certificate which enrolled her on the authority of the office and was subsequently paid childcare leave benefits, it said.

The embassy has also told her that it would enroll her in the insurance scheme retroactively, the union said.

The union praised the decision by the embassy, saying in a statement, "It is of great significance that diplomatic privilege was not applied" in processing the staff's employment insurance, referencing the fact that even a foreign diplomatic body is required by law to adhere to Japanese employment standards.

The embassy told Kyodo News it would not comment on private matters.

File photo taken in June 2020 shows a public employment security office in Tokyo's Shibuya district that is also known as Hello Work Shibuya. (Kyodo)

The woman, whose nationality was not disclosed, said she hopes her case would set a precedent that encourages other locally hired employees of foreign entities to fight for their rights at work.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, diplomats working in Japan are not eligible for employment insurance but embassies and consulates are required by law to take insurance enrollment procedures for employees hired in Japan.

Under the employment insurance system, both employers and employees pay premiums to cover benefits paid out in various cases such as when an insurance member is taking a childcare leave, loses their employment or requires training to find a new job.

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