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Work Hours


One of the most densely populated countries in the world, Japan is an eastern Asian island in the Pacific Ocean. Japanese is the official language. Its economy is one of the largest in the world, rivaled only by the United States and China. Japan relies heavily on exports to drive its economy. It exports transportation equipment, motor vehicles and a variety of metals.

Employers in Japan with more than 10 employees must write a contract which includes pay details, hours of work, breaks, rest days and leaves, shift timings and other terms and conditions related to employment. The employment contract must include eligibility for pay increases and bonuses and eligibility for retirement. Most employment contracts in Japan are of an unspecified period, with a probationary period of three to six months. Employers are not required to conduct pre-hire background checks but may choose to do so.

The standard work period in Japan is a 40-hour week over five days. Employers are expected to pay their employees overtime unless that employee is working in a management position. Overtime is capped at five hours per day, 45 hours per month and 360 hours per year. Overtime is paid at between 125% and 150% of the employee’s basic wage.

Employers are not required to provide their employees paid sick leave in Japan. Many employment contracts in Japan do provide for paid sick leave, and employees can use their paid time off to cover days they miss due to illness.

Female employees receive 14 weeks of maternity leave in Japan. Employers are not required to pay employees during this time but may choose to do so. Employees may also be eligible for maternity benefits under Japan’s social security program. Any amounts paid by the employer will generally be reduced by amounts received from social security. Male employees may take up to four weeks of paternity leave.

Employees in Japan receive up to one year of partially paid childcare leave. Mothers may start their childcare leave from the day after maternity leave ends. Employees are allowed five unpaid days a year for leave in connection with a sick or injured family member.

Employers in Japan are not required to provide bonuses to their employees unless bonuses are written into the employment contract. A common practice is for employers to pay bonuses as part of employees’ remuneration packages, with seasonal bonuses paid to salaried workers twice a year in June or July and in December.

Employees in Japan receive 10 days of paid annual leave after six months of employment, provided they have worked at least 80% of total workdays. This increases by one day per year for the following two years and by two days per year thereafter up to a maximum of 20 days per year. Unused annual leave expires after two years.

In Japan, the public holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day

  • Coming of Age Day

  • Foundation Day

  • The Emperor’s Birthday

  • Vernal Equinox Day

  • Showa Day

  • Constitution Memorial Day

  • Greenery Day

  • Children’s Day

  • Marine Day

  • Mountain Day

  • Respect for the Aged Day

  • Autumnal Equinox Day

  • Health and Sports Day

  • Culture Day

  • Labor Thanksgiving Day

Japan provides universal healthcare. Citizens and residents are required to enroll. Employees may be required to make out-of-pocket payments for some medical treatments and procedures. Visitors staying less than three months should have travel insurance coverage for medical emergencies.

Employment contracts in Japan may be terminated at the end of the contract (if for a fixed term), by the employer or by the employee. Employers must provide employees 30 days of notice prior to dismissal, or payment in lieu of notice, and have a valid reason for the termination. Dismissal on fair grounds includes:

  • employee lacks the ability to perform the work properly,

  • employee is ineligible for the assigned work,

  • employee violates the employer’s rules of employment,

  • financial hardship of the employer, and

  • agreement between union and employer to terminate an employee.

The 30-day notice does not apply to some workers employed on a very temporary, short-term basis, such as seasonal workers who are employed for no more than four months. There is no requirement to pay severance upon dismissal.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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