Insuring Japan's 'part-time terrorists'

Frustrated employers turn to carriers to contend with workers' 'nuisance behaviour'

Insuring Japan's 'part-time terrorists'

Japanese society is well-known for its respect of ‘face’ and dignity. Which is why, when a video went viral of a Domino’s pizza employee wiping his finger up his nose and then in fresh pizza dough on February 12th, the company was mortified.

Domino’s Pizza Japan Inc. immediately issued a statement on its website saying, “We would like to express our deepest apologies to our customers for any discomfort and inconvenience caused. From now on, the entire company will do its utmost to prevent a recurrence and restore trust.”

The post, tagged with the Japanese for “part-timer terrorism” is just one of a torrent of similar posts, showing part-time employees’ “nuisance behaviour”. And that behaviour has sparked a sharp uptick in interest for insurance products covering legal fees and other expenses for at-risk businesses, according to the Mainichi Shinbun, one of the country’s major newspapers.

Using social media such as X (nee Twitter) to distribute recordings of part-time workers carrying out random acts using products or utensils is referred to as “part-timer terrorism” or baito tero (バイトテロ) in Japanese.

The acts may seem small, but they can have seismic effects on a company’s business – when a part-time worker at Kura Sushi, the revolving sushi chain, was videoed tossing fish into the trash and then taking it out to apparently prepare it, stock prices plummeted and resulted in a market value loss of US$24 million.

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. started offering “reputation expense insurance” in April 2019. It covers risks related to social media posts, like those about part-timer terrorism and products contaminated with foreign objects. The policy will even go so far as to assist with holding an apology press conference for the company in question.

And business is booming for Tokio Marine, with a 20% jump in business in 2023 over 2022.

Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. has also joined the party with its “Business Master Plus” plans that launched slightly over a year later than Tokio Marine’s offering. It too, is seeing increasing business, with around 20,000 policyholders.

 A Sompo Japan representative told local reporters, “With the growing awareness of consumers’ rights and the maturation of online society, companies are exposed to greater risks of economic damage than ever before. Companies’ insurance needs, not only for ‘part-timer terrorism’, will continue to increase.”

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