Hours & Pay Regulations
The Labor Standards Act sets the regular Japanese workweek at no more than 40 hours and the standard workday at no more than eight hours, excluding rest periods, subject to certain exceptions relating to flexible work schedules. Labor Standards Act, 1947, No. 49, arts. 32 – 36.
Time Tracking Requirement for All Employees
Employers are currently required to track the working time of all non-exempt employees in Japan. Effective April 1, 2019, however, employers will be required to track working hours for all employees including exempt employees in order to protect each employee’s health.
The employer shall pay increased wages for work during such hours or on such days at a rate no less than the rate within the range of no less than 25 percent and no more than 50 percent over the normal wage per working hour or working day. Any hours worked above the normal working hours are considered overtime. An employer may require overtime work only if there is a written employment agreement permitting it or there is an extraordinary need. If there is a written agreement permitting overtime work, the agreement must be submitted to a Labor Standards Inspection Office.
Effective April 1, 2019, there will be express and mandatory maximum limit to overtime hour unless the job falls into one of the few exempt positions. This limit on overtime will become effective for large employers starting in April 2019, and for small employers starting in April 2020. There are basically two separate rules on this point.
- Basic Limit Rule – Overtime work hours, which are working hours exceeding 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week, cannot exceed 45 hours per month and 360 hours per year (“Basic Limit”).
- Extended Limit Rule – In the case of special circumstances, the employer is allowed to extend the Basic Limit. The total number of overtime work and work on statutory holidays (e.g., Sundays), however, cannot exceed 100 hours per month, and the average overtime hours cannot exceed 80 hours per month in the applicable second through sixth months after the rule takes effect for each employee. The number of months when the employee works over the Basic Limit cannot exceed 6 months in a year. The yearly maximum Extended Limit hours for overtime work will be 720 hours.
For overtime performed late at night (from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.), the premium is 50 percent over the normal wages per working hour (25% for regular night work + 25% overtime rate). When an employee works overtime between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on a rest day, the employee is entitled to a 60 percent premium over ordinary pay. If the night work overtime is in excess of the 60-hour statutory monthly limit, the employee is entitled to a 75 percent premium (25% regular rate + 25% premium for night work for hours above 60 hours limit + 25% premium for overtime during the night).
Employers may offer paid time off instead of overtime pay if this has been negotiated by labor and management representatives. Labor Standards Act, 1947, No. 49, art. 37(1)-(3).
For overtime performed late at night (from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.), the employee shall be paid at a rate no less than 25 percent over the normal wage per working hour.
An employer shall provide workers with at least 45 minutes of rest periods during working hours when working hours exceed 6 hours, and at least 1 hour when working hours exceed 8 hours. Employers must provide workers with at least 1 rest day per week or at least 4 rest days during a four-week period. In addition, a female employee with a child under 1 year of age is entitled to two unpaid 30-minute rest breaks to care for the infant. Work on rest days must be compensated at a rate of at least 35 percent higher than the employee’s ordinary pay.
When an employee works overtime between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on a rest day, the employee is entitled to a 60 percent premium over ordinary pay. If this overtime is in excess of the 60-hour statutory monthly limit, the employee is entitled to a 75 percent premium.
The national holidays typically set by the government each year are as follows:
- Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
- Second Monday in January: Coming of Age Day
- Feb. 11: National Foundation Day
- Vernal Equinox (date in March varies)
- April 29: Showa Day
- May 3: Constitution Memorial Day
- May 4: Greenery Day
- May 5: Children’s Day
- Third Monday in July: Marine Day
- August 11: Mountain Day
- Third Monday in September: Respect for the Aged Day
- Autumnal Equinox (date in September varies)
- Second Monday in October: Health and Sports Day
- Nov. 3: Culture Day
- Nov. 23: Labor Thanksgiving Day
- Dec. 23: Emperor’s Birthday
Employees working on statutory off days are compensated at a rate of at least 35 percent higher than the employee’s ordinary pay. For overtime done at night work, the employees are compensated at a rate of at least 60 percent higher than the employee’s ordinary pay. A national holiday that falls on a Sunday is celebrated the next day. Law Concerning National Holidays, 1990, No. 178 (Japanese).
Effective April 1, 2019, the employees to take at least 5 days of annual leave if they have more than 10 days of unused annual leave. An Employee who worked at least 6 months and for more than 80% of his/her scheduled working days during the preceding year may enjoy annual paid leave in proportion to such Employee’s period of service as follows:
- 6 Months: 10 Days
- 1 Year 6 Months: 11 Days
- 2 Years 6 Months: 12 Days
- 3 Years 6 Months: 14 Days
- 4 Years 6 Months: 16 Days
- 5 Years 6 Months: 18 Days
- 6 Years 6 Months or More: 20 Days
Leave may be taken consecutively or incrementally. Up to two years of unused vacation may be carried forward.
Employees are not entitled to paid annual leave for any year in which they do not report for work at least 80 percent of working days. An employee is considered to have reported for work if absent due to a work-related injury or illness, for child care or family care leave or for reasons related to childbirth.
Employees may take half-day annual leave. In such a case, the time of leave shall extend from either 12 midnight to 12 noon or from 12 noon to 12 midnight. Labor Standards Act, 1947, No. 49, art. 39(1)-(6).
A pregnant employee may request the time off, during the scheduled working hours, for receiving the health guidance or medical examinations stipulated in the Maternal and Child health Act. No salary shall be paid for the period of the time off.
Employees are entitled to up to 1 year of partially paid leave to care for a child up to the child’s 1st birthday and, if the mother cannot obtain child care, until the child is 2 years old. Child care leave begins after maternity leave and can be taken by both male and female employees. A request for child care leave may only be refused if:
- A collective bargaining agreement prohibits taking leave;
- The employee has worked for the employer for less than one year;
- In the case of a fixed-term worker, where it is clear that the employment relationship will end before the child turns one years old; or
- The employee works two days or fewer per week.
Child Care and Family Leave Law, 1991, No. 76, art. 5.
An employee is entitled under the Labor Standards Act to take time off to vote or perform other public duties. An employer is not required to compensate an employee for this leave. Labor Standards Act, 1947, No. 49.
An employer need not pay wages during family care leave unless its work rules require it. Under the Child Care and Family Leave Law, if a family member of an employee needs constant care for two or more weeks because of an injury, sickness, or physical or mental disability, the employee is entitled to two forms of partially paid family care leave. The employee can take five days a year to take care of one family member or 10 days a year to take care of two or more family members and up to 93 days per family member, which can be taken in three different periods during the course of the year. An employer may refuse a request for family care leave only if the employee is:
- Requesting the first form of leave and has been with the employer for less than six months;
- Requesting the second form of leave and has been employed by the employer for less than one year;
- Requesting the second form of leave and is on a fixed-term contract, and it is clear that the employment relationship will end within 93 days of the requested beginning of the leave; or
- Working two days or fewer per week.
Child Care and Family Leave Law, 1991, No. 76, art. 5.
Under the Labor Standards Act, an employer must provide leave if a woman requests it because work during her menstrual period “would be especially difficult.” The employer is not required to pay during such leave. Labor Standards Act, 1947, No. 49, arts. 64(2), 65-66.
An employee raising a child not yet of elementary school age may take leave without pay to care for the child in the event of illness or injury. Such leave is limited to five working days per fiscal year for parents with one preschool-age child and 10 days for those with two or more. Employees may take this leave on a full-day or half-day basis. Child Care and Family Leave Law, 1991, No. 76..
Employers generally (but are not required by law to) allow employees to take up to five days’ paid leave for the death of a father, mother, spouse, or child and up to three days for the death of a grandparent, grandchild, sibling, child’s spouse, or spouse’s parent.
Employers generally (but are not required by law to) allow employees to take leave upon getting married.
Employers generally (but are not required by law to) allow employees to take leave upon the birth of a child.
If a woman who is expected to give birth within six weeks (or within 14 weeks in the event of a multiple childbirth) requests maternity leave, the request must be granted. Post-childbirth leave of eight weeks after childbirth must be granted whether or not it was requested, although the woman may return to work in the final two weeks of the eight-week period if approved by a physician. If the work rules do not provide that childbirth leave is paid leave, then no wages need be paid during this period. However, employees who are covered by the Employees’ Health Insurance system are eligible to receive pay for 42 days of pre-childbirth leave and up to 56 days of post-childbirth leave at a rate of approximately two-thirds of the employee’s standard daily wage. Labor Standards Act, 1947, No. 49, arts. 64(2), 65-66.
Last updated on: October 31st, 2019