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SoftBank to offer married employee benefits to same-sex couples

Starting in October, telecommunications firm SoftBank Group Corp. will provide the same employee benefits to same-sex couples as it does to legally married couples.

    Same-sex couples are already eligible for SoftBank's family discount mobile phone plan, and it had been considering altering the policy governing its around 18,000 employees. Under the new policy, SoftBank will include same-sex partnerships under the company's definition of "spouse," allowing LGBT employees to receive the same family benefits, including wedding bonuses and honeymoon holiday, paid leave when a family member passes away, and compensation payments if they are assigned to posts that separate them from their partner.

    Since not all municipalities issue partnership certificates for same-sex couples, SoftBank plans to accept resident card copies or other items as proof a couple is living together. The company will aim to work out the details before the new policy takes effect in October.

    SoftBank explained the reason for the change, saying, "We want to respect a variety of individuals and create an environment that is easy for anyone to work in," adding, "From the view of employment, it is important to prepare an environment that allows LGBT and other people to work for us."

    Other companies that recognize same-sex couples as spouses include Renown Inc., IBM Japan Ltd., Panasonic Corp. and, since August, Rakuten Inc., with the trend expected to continue.

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