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Japan: Employee rights

Original and updating authors: Koki Yanagisawa and Erino Yoneda


  • Statutory normal working time is generally set at a maximum of eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, and various rules govern overtime, working time flexibility, "discretionary" working time arrangements and late-night work. (See Hours of work)
  • Employers must generally provide employees with rest breaks totalling at least 45 minutes, if their daily working time exceeds six hours (and one hour if their daily working time exceeds eight hours), and with at least one rest day per week. (See Rest breaks and rest periods)
  • There is no requirement that employees' statutory weekly rest days must fall on Sundays. (See Sunday work)
  • Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid annual leave after six months of continuous service with the same employer, rising in stages to 20 days after six-and-a-half years' continuous service. (See Holiday and holiday pay)
  • Pregnant employees are entitled to take up to 14 weeks of maternity leave (during which they may receive a maternity allowance under the public Employees' Health Insurance scheme), and have various other entitlements and protections, as do nursing mothers. (See Maternity and pregnancy rights)
  • Employees who meet certain eligibility conditions are entitled, on application, to take childcare leave (during which they may receive an allowance under the public Employees' Health Insurance scheme) in respect of a child under the age of one year. (See Parental leave)
  • Employees who meet certain eligibility conditions are entitled, on application, to take family care leave (during which they may receive an allowance under the public Employees' Health Insurance scheme) to care for a close relative who has a health condition requiring constant care, up to a total of 93 days of leave per relative requiring care. (See Care leave)
  • Although not required by law, it is common for employers to grant unpaid leave in circumstances such as marriage, childbirth (for men) and bereavement. (See Other leave)
  • Employers are prohibited from discriminating against certain part-time employees, by reason of their part-time status, and must take specified measures to promote the transition of all part-time employees to full-time status. (See Part-time workers)
  • An employer must not, by reason of an employee's fixed-term status, apply employment conditions to that employee that are unreasonably different from those of an employee on an open-ended contract. (See Fixed-term workers)
  • Statute permits and regulates "worker dispatching", whereby a "worker dispatching undertaking" (that is, a temporary work agency) employs a worker (known as a "dispatched worker") who temporarily performs work for a client, under the instructions of the client, while maintaining his or her employment relationship with the worker dispatching undertaking. (See Temporary agency workers)
  • The employment consequences of business reorganisations that may involve a change of employer depend on whether the transaction is a merger, "business assignment" (broadly equivalent to the transfer of an undertaking) or company split. (See Transfers of undertakings)
  • Various rules govern employees' status and wage claims when their employer is bankrupt or is placed in court-supervised restructuring procedures aimed at avoiding insolvency. (See Insolvency of employer)
  • Employers' "work rules" (obligatory in workplaces with 10 or more employees) must specify the type and degree of disciplinary actions applicable to various types of misconduct, and an employer must not take disciplinary action on any grounds other than those specified in the rules. (See Disciplinary measures)
  • In workplaces with 10 or more employees, the employer must establish written "work rules", dealing with specified matters such as working time, leave, pay and termination of employment. (See Work rules)
  • General legislation on the protection of personal information applies in the employment context, if the employer processes more than a certain minimum amount of personal data. (See Data protection and privacy)
  • Employees who engage in specified acts of "whistleblowing" receive statutory protection from dismissal and detrimental treatment by their employer. (See Whistleblowing)