Japan Labour Law: Working Hours, Leaves & Vacations

There are many things that expats including OFWs should understand about the living and working conditions in Japan. Even before signing a contract for work overseas, it’s highly recommended to get the basic idea about certain labour laws and worker rights in the country where you will be working in.

In this post, we will highlight some of the basic provisions of the Japanese Labour laws which particularly deal with working hours, leaves, as well as vacations. If you’re planning to go to Japan for work, or are already employed here, you may want to take note of some of the key points that we will emphasize in this short article.

Leave and Vacation of Workers in Japan

Disclaimer: All citations and references in this article have been lifted from the Japanese Labour Law which is regulated by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. All information used  and shared through this content is specifically intended for information-sharing only. To learn more about the employees’ official leaves and vacations under the Japanese Labour Standards Law, you may refer to the MHLW’s resource material for foreign workers available here.

Working Hours and Holiday Leave (Articles 32, 34, and 35) (These provisions, however, do not apply to certain fields such as agriculture, livestock, and fishery industries.)

In principle, employers are only allowed to have his/her employees work for not more than 40 hours per week (and for some industries, 44 hours a week) or eight (8) hours per day. (Articles, 32, 40, and 131)

Also, employers should allot at least 45 minutes of rest period for every 6 hours of continuous work, and an (1) hour for more than eight (8) hours of work.

Employees are entitled to have at least one (1) day off per week, or four (4) days off or more within a 4-week period. (Article 35)

If an employee is made to work in excess of the statutory working hours prescribed by the law, the employer is expected to enter into a written agreement which details the provisions for overtime work and working on days off (Article 37), which is to be reported to the Labour Standards Office.

For work done in excess of the statutory working hours or on statutory holidays, an extra pay calculated at 25% or higher of the wage payable for the regular working hours or work day must be paid, whereas for work on statutory holidays must be paid at least 35% more.

Annual Leave with Pay (Article 39)

A minimum of ten (10) leave credits in a year is given to employees who have been continuously employed for six (6) months, and whose work has covered not less than 80% of the entire working days.

Injury and Sickness Allowance (Article 9)

You might be surprised to know that Japan labour laws do not have a set provision for sickness leaves with pay as they are generally taken from the employee’s anneal leave credits. However, for medium to long-term illnesses, the government has set up a scheme that will benefit and assist workers to receive adequate time off for recovery from medium to long-term sickness or injuries without receiving the full financial blow of his/her absence from work. The Injury and Sickness Allowance which has been developed by the national government allows workers to go on a prolonged period of absence from work of up to 18 months, and still get up to 66% of their take-home pay.  To know more about its provisions and conditions for availment, click here.

Much of what is being observed in terms of employment in most countries today follow international labour practices and standard laws, however, we must also understand that work, as part of a country’s culture can be different in some ways or another in places such as Japan. As employees, we need to know our rights, and balance it at the same time with adapting to a unique work culture, if we are working in a foreign land.

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