The Japanese government released their annual economic policy in 2021 which recommended that companies let staff work 4 days per week, instead of the usual 5.
4 Day Work Week in Japan
Although in the past Japan has been known for an intense working culture, recently the country has released new guidelines encouraging employers to move to 4 day work weeks.The idea of a 4 day work week has been proposed in the past and implemented by some companies, such as Microsoft Japan. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and a labor shortage in the country moved the government to promote it as a nation-wide guideline.
The goal of the 4 day work week guideline is to support employee wellness, family time and social life, and help with the country’s labor shortage.
Working Hours in Japan
Although the legal recommendation for working hours in Japan is 40 hours per week, historically, many Japanese employers have required their employees to work as much as 80 hours of overtime per month. This has led to the Japanese term “karoshi”, which translates to “death by overwork”.
In recent years, working hours in Japan have gradually decreased, from 2,097 hours annually in 1986 to 1,644 hours in 2019.
In Japan, regular office hours are between 10 and 6, although many employees may work earlier or later hours.
Vacation Policy in Japan
There are several types of holiday leave in Japan. The first, called “legal holiday”, requires workers in Japan to receive at least one day off per week, or 4 days off per month.
Employees also have annual leave. Employees are entitled to 10 days per year, and receive an additional day per year that they have worked with the company, up to a maximum of 20 days.
Although Japan has 16 public holidays per year, there is no legal requirement for employers to compensate employees if they are required to work on a public holiday. Most employers do allow their workers to rest on major holidays.
Part Time Working in Japan
As of 2020, 38% of Japan’s total workforce worked part time, a number that has increased from 24% in 2000. 53% of Japan’s female workforce works part time, compared to only 25% of the male workforce in Japan.
While younger workers in Japan are most likely to hold full-time positions, older workers are more likely to work part time or seasonal jobs.
Remote Working in Japan
During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Japan experienced a rise in remote workers. While the percentage of companies that offered remote work opportunities was only 20% in 2019, the number reached 51.9% in 2021.
Since then, many companies have stopped implementing remote work, with 70% of Japanese companies no longer offering remote work as an option for employees.