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Labor Laws in Japan

Application of Labor laws

The Japanese Labor Standards Act and other labor related laws shall apply in principle to all enterprises in Japan regardless of whether the employer is Japanese or foreigner, or the company is a foreign or Japanese-registered corporation. They also apply to foreign workers in Japan as well as to Japanese workers. It is very important for foreign enterprises, Japanese enterprises which have foreign workers and foreign workers themselves to understand Japanese Labor laws. 

Working hours, breaks and holidays

40-hour per week and 8-hour per day (statutory working hours)
Working hours must, in principle, not exceed 40 hours per week or eight hours per day excluding breaks. There are, however, exceptions to principle, such as deformed work hour scheme, discretionary work scheme and flexible work hour system.
The Labor Standards Law stipulates that an employer must provide break of a minimum of 45 minutes during working hours which exceed six hours, and at least one hour if working hours exceed eight hours.
Holidays (statutory holidays)
The employer must provide workers with at least one holiday per week.  

Overtime work

Labor-Management Agreement on overtime work and holiday work (36 kyoutei)
Overtime and holiday work are allowed under two circumstances: (1) in cases of emergency (temporary necessity by reason of disaster or other unavoidable circumstances), and (2) when a labor-management agreement (so-called 36 kyoutei) is concluded and filed to the Labor Standards Inspection Office. Without 36 kyoutei, an employer cannot have workers work exceed maximum working hours (40 hours a week and 8 hours a day) and work on holidays. 
Premium Payment for overtime
Premium rate
Work in excess of statutory working hours
Work on statutory holidays
Work late at night (from 10pm to 5am)
Work in excess of statutory working hours exceeding 60 hour in a month* (applied to large companies)
Exceptions for managers and supervisors:  Persons in positions of management or supervision and persons handling confidential administrative work who are closely involved in management are not subject to the regulations on working hours, breaks and days off.  However, the premium of night work shall be applied to them, too. 


Annual Paid Leave: A worker who has continuously worked for more than six months with over 80% attendance of total working days shall be awarded a ten-day paid vacation. From then on, a number of paid vacation days will be added corresponding to the length of continuous service.

Length of employment(years)
Annual leave days (days)

Maternity Leave: If an employee of expectant mother requests permission for leave of absence six weeks prior to the expected date of delivery, the employer must approve the request. And, in principle, employers are prohibited to have any female employee work for a period of eight weeks commencing from the day following that on which the employee gave birth

Child Care Leave: If an employee with a child aged less than one-year-old requests permission for a leave of absence, the employer must approve the request.

Family Care Leave: If an employee with a family member who has been judged to require a certain level of nursing care requests permission for a leave of absence to provide such nursing care up to a maximum of 93 days in total per that family member, the employer must approve such a request once only for each occasion that a family member falls into a condition requiring full-time nursing care


Japanese labor law stipulates that the dismissal which lacks objectively rational grounds and is not considered being appropriate in general social standards shall be treated as an abuse of the right and invalid.  And all possible grounds for dismissal must be clearly stated in the work rules, collective agreement and employment contract in order for the dismissal to be valid. 
Furthermore, taking the legislative procedures of dismissal is very important for the dismissal to be valid. If an employer want to dismiss the employee, the employer have to give the employee at least 30 days advance notice, or have to pay 30 days’ wages at the time of dismissal (allowance for immediate dismissal).
As a general rule, it is very difficult to judge the validity of dismissal in concrete cases. We recommend you to consult a specialist in labor laws like us.

Employment contract/Work Rules

The Labor Standards Law requires an employer to clarify the working conditions to workers when concluding an employment contract.  

The Labor Standards Law stipulates that the company or organization which continuously employs 10 or more workers must draw up the Work Rules and submit them to the Director of Labor Standard Inspection Office. The company or organization is also required to make these rules known to the employees. 

Learn more about Work Rules


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