Hire in Japan

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Last updated at June 14, 2022
beautiful scenery in the country of japan

Currency

Japanese Yen (JPY)

Capital

Tokyo

Time Zone

GMT+9

Key Country Facts

Official Language

The most widely spoken language in Japan is Japanese, which is divided into a large number of dialects, with Tokyo dialect being considered as standard Japanese.

Legal System

The modern Japanese legal system is based on the civil law system, following the model of 19th Century European legal systems, especially the legal codes of Germany and France. Japan established its legal system when imperial rule was restored in 1868 as part of the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Constitution was the organic law of the Japanese empire in effect from 1890 to 1945. After World War II, there was a major legal reform, and the 1947 Constitution was drawn up under the Allied Occupation, with significant American influence. The current Japanese legal system is a hybrid of continental and American law. Both the Civil Law concepts and the more recent Common Law influences are effected by traditional Japanese values.

Culture Observations

Japanese culture has many unique and interesting aspects, mixing both modern and traditional, such as cuisine, architecture, performing arts, fashion, anime, manga, and Geisha. Japanese culture is immersed in rich history and deep traditions dating back thousands of years. Japanese society is in a continual state of rapid change and is continuously evolving with new trends in fashion, technology and pushes the boundaries of what is possible.

It has perplexed observers for decades as to how Japan can be so advanced in terms of technology and infrastructure whilst at the same time being wedded to traditional cultural approaches in all businesses. Japanese companies are innovative and disruptive whilst retaining strong alignment to traditional hierarchical structures, risk aversion and detail obsession. 

Japan HR at a Glance

Employment Law

The scope of Japanese labour law is defined by the Japanese Civil Code. Article 622 defines employment contracts; article 632 defines a contract for work, and article 643 defines a contract for mandate. The parties are free to decide the functional nature of their contracts, but labour rights apply regardless of the label in the contracts.

Employees in Japan enjoy significant protection under Japanese employment law and through well-established court precedents. Guidelines and notices issued by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) are also employee-friendly. In addition, cultural norms and societal expectations such as the traditional concept of ‘lifetime employment’ play important roles in the employer/employee relationship.

Employment Contract

Employers must provide employees with certain terms of employment in writing. Japanese employment contracts are short, simple, and usually supplemented with the work rules. English-only contract is acceptable, but it’s more common to have both Japanese and English. If a contract is in two languages, it should state which version would be used in case of a dispute.

Contract Terms

Employer and employee are free to execute a fixed-term contract, which does not need to be renewed unless the parties agree.

However, when fixed-term employment contracts, which started after April 1st, 2013, are renewed to reach a period exceeding five years, the employee will acquire a right to request and change the relationship to open-end. There have already been two separate legislative acts with exceptions to this maximum time period.

There is a prohibition on setting the retirement age below 60 years. When the retirement age is lower than 65, the employer must (i) raise the retirement age to 65; (ii) establish a system to re-employ employees who wish to work past the retirement age until they reach 65; or (iii) abolish the retirement age.

Work Rules

Employers with 10 or more employees must create work rules and file them with the Labor Standards Inspection Office. Work rules are an important part of the employment contract and must stipulate certain terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, working hours and leave, termination and disputes. Employers with fewer employees can create work rules on a voluntary basis. Work rules must be submitted to a representative of the majority of employees (or a majority union if one exists) for comments prior to filing. If there is any discrepancy between the work rules and the employment contract, the provision that is most favorable to the employee takes priority.

Probation Period

It’s not compulsory but is common. Typically, it’s three to six months and should not exceed one year. An employee can be terminated during or at the end of the probationary period, only if the termination is objectively reasonable and socially acceptable. Although this test is somewhat easier to meet for probationary employees, it may still be difficult to justify the termination.

Severance Pay

Severance Pay is not a statutory requirement, but most MNCs will pay some sort of severance in a termination exercise. The typical amount is one month for every year of service, plus 30 days’ notice or 30 days payment in lieu. Sometimes, there will also be a buyout of leave, and the company may pay the severance in the form of a retirement allowance which has significant tax benefits to the individual, if the individual has stayed a long time with the company.

Paid Leave

Newly-hired employees are generally granted 10 days’ paid annual leave after the completion of six months’ service. The entitlement rises by one day a year for the following two years and by two days a year thereafter, up to a maximum of 20 days. Unused leave expires after two years and cannot be carried over unless the contract says otherwise. Employers are not required to pay out unused annual leave in case of termination, but it can become a part of the negotiation on leaving the company.

Overtime

Overtime pay is required for work done in excess of the statutory working hours. Managers or above are not usually eligible for overtime payment. Common workaround is for individual employment contracts to state that an employee’s remuneration includes a certain amount of overtime (subject to the caps set out in the Labor Standards Law).

Notice Period

For employees, 30 days or as otherwise detailed in an employment contract. Employers must give at least 30 days’ notice of dismissal or provide payment in lieu of notice. However, due to the difficulty in justifying a termination, many employers offer severance agreements and pay some consideration in exchange for the employee’s voluntary resignation and waiver of claims against the employer. (Note: The 30-day notice period does not apply to employees that are terminated during the first 14 days of the probationary period.)

Termination

The termination process can be exceedingly difficult. An employee can only be dismissed if the employer has objectively reasonable grounds to do so, and the dismissal would not be considered unreasonable in general societal terms. Poor performance or misconduct that justifies termination in other countries often does not warrant in Japan. A termination that is not justified will be deemed as an abuse of the employer’s termination rights. Such termination is a nullity, and the employee will be reinstated with back pay if the employee seeks such relief. Due to difficulties associated with terminating employees, employers are increasingly hiring employees for fixed terms of employment. Fixed-term agreements are generally required to be for three years or less.

Other Standard Items

On top of salary, companies usually pay transportation fees for employees from their residence to their working place on. This commutation allowance, which is generally the cost of a monthly train pass, is usually subject to a cap and is a non-taxable allowance for the employee. Any other allowance paid on top of base salary is subject to income tax.

Statutory Costs

Employer statutory benefit contributions are approximately 15% of the salary and taxable allowances.

Tax and Social Security

PERSONAL INCOME TAX (PIT)

In Japan, permanent resident taxpayers are taxed on their worldwide income. Non-resident taxpayers are taxed only on their Japan-sourced income. Non-permanent resident taxpayers are taxed on their income, other than foreign-source income (in particular, potentially, on certain capital gains) that are not remitted into Japan, plus potentially part of their foreign-sourced income that is paid in or remitted to Japan.

PERSONAL INCOME TAX RATES APPLICABLE TO TAXABLE INCOME ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Income tax rates (national):

Japan operates a progressive tax system where your tax rate increases with your income. At present, the following tax brackets apply:

Taxable Income (JPY) Tax Rate Deduction
<¥1.95 million 5% ¥0
¥1.95-3.3 million 10% ¥97,500
¥3.3-6.95 million 20% ¥427,500
¥6.95-9 million 23% ¥636,000
¥9-18 million 33% ¥1,536,000
¥18-40 million 40% ¥2,796,000
Over ¥40 million 45% ¥4,796,000
For example, a single taxpayer with a taxable income of ¥8 million would fall in the 23% tax bracket and pay ¥1.204 million in taxes (¥8M x 23% = ¥1.84M – ¥0.636M = ¥1.204M).

 

Local income taxes

Japanese local governments (prefectural and municipal governments) levy local inhabitant’s tax on a taxpayer’s prior year income, collectively known as Residence Tax or Inhabitant Tax (jumin-zei). In total, this amounts to 10% (6% prefectural and 4% municipal) of your prior year’s taxable income. This applies when the taxpayer is a resident of Japan, as of January 1st of the current year. For local inhabitant’s tax purposes, an equalization per capita tax is also assessed. The standard annual amount is JPY 5,000, while this may vary based on the prefecture/municipality in which the taxpayer resides. Local inhabitant’s tax is not deductible.

Non-residents

A non-resident taxpayer’s Japan-source compensation (employment income) is subject to a flat 20.42% national income tax on gross compensation with no deductions available. This rate includes 2.1% of the surtax described above (20% x 102.1% = 20.42%). A non-resident taxpayer may be subject to the local inhabitant’s tax at a rate of 10% if they are registered as a resident as of January 1st of the current year.

 

DEDUCTIONS ALLOWED FOR THE CALCULATION OF PIT

 

Earned income deduction: A resident taxpayer who earns income from employment is eligible for an earned income deduction for purposes of both national income and local inhabitant’s tax. The amount of the deduction is based on the amount of the employment income and is determined by reference to a deduction table.

 

Personal deductions: Interest is not tax deductible. Japanese social security contributions are fully deductible. Medical expenses (irrespective of where they were paid) are tax deductible, with certain limitations.

Charitable contributions: Those designated by the Ministry of Finance in Japan are tax deductible, with certain limitations. Qualified contributions or donations that total, in aggregate, over JPY 2,000 are deductible in computing the national tax. The total deduction is limited to 40% of income, less than JPY 2,000. The definition of a qualified contribution is extremely restrictive (see Other tax credits and incentives section for more information).

Life insurance premiums (or private pension): Premiums paid to a Japanese agency in local currency are deductible to a limited extent in computing national and local inhabitants taxes.

Earthquake insurance premiums: Deductible for the purpose of both national and local inhabitant’s tax to a limited extent.

Mortgage deductions: Mortgage interest is not tax deductible. However, a tax credit on housing loans may be available for up to ten years when certain conditions are met. The total amount of tax credit is determined by the year in which the taxpayer began to reside in the property as well as mortgage balance at the end of the tax year.

Personal deduction: Resident taxpayers are entitled to a personal exemption (JPY 380,000 for national income tax purposes and JPY 330,000 for local inhabitant’s tax purposes) for themselves and their dependent spouses.

Business deductions: Business expenses are tax deductible in some limited cases. An employer’s reimbursements of business expenses, such as moving, travel, and entertainment expenses, do not constitute taxable income to the employee, provided that the expenses are required for the employer’s business.

 

PIT: EMPLOYER REQUIREMENTS

 

Withholding income tax at source:

 

Employers who pay income subjected to withholding at source must pay the taxation office the amount of tax withheld at source no later than the 10th day of the month following the month that the income was paid. Regarding paying withholding tax on residents’ salaries, a special measure is provided for small businesses with fewer than 10 persons on the payroll that allows them to pay withholding income tax in six-month instalments, or twice a year (by July 10th and by January 20th), at some professional fees.

Year end adjustment on employee withheld income tax:

The year-end adjustment is for the calculation of the income tax done by the employer. During the year, employee tax is withheld each month from employee salary based on the rates published by the tax office. At the end of the year, the exact tax liability of the employee is calculated based on his/her special situation (such as number of dependents), and an adjustment is made so that the total amount of tax withheld during the year equals the tax liability of the employee. The amount of tax withheld from employees is reported annually in the withholding tax report “Gokeihyo” filed in January.

 

SOCIAL INSURANCE

 

Japan has four different kinds of insurance system which companies are legally obliged to take part in; all workers that meet certain criteria are covered by the insurance.

 

1. Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance: covers any illness or injury at work or while commuting to/from work.

2. Employment Insurance: provided to workers who become unemployed and helps to maintain stable employment, such as providing financial aid and subsidies.

3. Health Insurance and Nursing Care Insurance: cover medical and nursing care expenses incurred by workers.

4. Employees’ Pension Insurance: provides benefits for old age, death or disability.

 

Social Security System Monthly Salary Cap (JPY) Employer Contribution Employee Contribution
Pension Insurance 650,000 9.15% 9.15%
Children’s Fund 650,000 0.36%
Heath Insurance 1,390,000 4.905% 4.905%
Long Term Care Insurance (over 40 yrs. old) 1,390,000 0.82% 0.82%
Unemployment Insurance 0.65% (effective 1 Apr – 30 Sept 2022) 0.30%
Worker’s Compensation 0.3%
Total   16.240% 15.280%
*The above table serves as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged will differ.

 

Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance and Employment Insurance are known collectively as labour insurance, while Health, Nursing Care and Employees’ Pension Insurances are collectively referred as social insurance.

A company must enter these insurance systems when first incorporating or hiring staff/workers by submitting labour and social insurance notification forms to the relevant authorities. The company usually pays insurance premiums by deducting the portion of the premiums payable by employees/workers from their wages and paying these together with the portion of the premiums payable by the company to the relevant authorities.

Social insurance premiums are deducted from a worker’s monthly salary. Pension and health premiums are calculated as a percentage of the ‘standard salary’. Standard salary is determined by taking the average compensation of three previous months and fixing that average according to a standard salary table that provides a single amount, called the ‘standard salary’, for any salary in that taxed range. The standard salary is capped. The maximum standard salary is JPY 650,000 for pension and JPY 1,390,000 for health. Unemployment and workers’ accident compensation insurances premiums are calculated as a percentage of the actual compensation instead of the standard salary.

Bonus payment are subject to the above insurances, but particular rules apply depending on the frequency and regularity of the payments. Also, there are annual caps on premium payments relating to bonuses.

 

PENSION INSURANCE

 

All residents contribute to pension insurance. This premium is revised every April and is determined by factors such as price fluctuation and real wage index. Salaried workers under the age of 70 pay a percentage of their standard salary. The premium for salaried workers is 18.30%, paid half by the employer and half by the employee.

 

Pension benefit is paid once the insured person is 65, unemployed, and have paid pension premiums for at least 10 years. The benefit amount depends on one’s total contribution.

Non-Japanese workers who have lived and worked in Japan for less than 10 years may apply to claim a lump sum payback on their national pension when they leave Japan and no longer will be eligible to receive Japanese pension benefits. However, this only applies for those who have been covered by employees’ pension insurance for at least six months. The application must be sent within two years after leaving Japan.

Employers pay a child allowance premium (0.36%) along with the pension premium. This premium funds the government program that provides childcare allowance to residents with children.

 

HEALTH INSURANCE AND LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE

 

Health insurance provides medical coverage for all insured residents, and long-term care insurance provides elderly care benefits. It also provides allowances in cases of childbirth, injury, sickness and death. National Health Insurance insures non-salaried residents under the age of 75. Employees’ Health Insurance covers salaried workers under 75 and their dependents under 75. Both non-salaried and salaried persons become insured under Latter-Stage Elderly Healthcare System upon turning 75.

 

National Health and Employees’ Health insurances cover 70% of medical expenses for persons under 70, and for those who are 70 to 74 with a standard salary of JPY 280,000 or more. Otherwise, the government covers 80% of medical expenses for those who are 70 to 74 with a standard salary below JPY 280,000 and 90% for those over 75. If total monthly medical costs of a household exceed a maximum amount, the exceeded amount will be reimbursed. The maximum is determined by the insured person’s compensation and age.

Like pension, Employees’ Health insurance premiums are calculated based on standard salary. The percentage depends on the employer’s registered prefecture. Tokyo’s rate is 9.84%, paid half by employer and half by the employee. Persons ages 40 to 64 are subject to an additional 1.8% premium on top of their health premium for long term care insurance, with the employer and employee each paying half.

 

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

 

Unemployment insurance provides unemployment allowance, as well as childcare and family care leave allowances.

 

The length of receiving unemployment allowance depends on age, termination reason, and period which one has paid unemployment insurance premiums. The waiting period for the first allowance payment is four weeks if the company has terminated the employee, as opposed to a waiting period of up to three months if the employee quits on his own accord. Allowance is paid monthly from thereon provided the person can prove that he/she is actively searching for a job.

Representative directors are not eligible for this insurance, as they are not under an employment agreement but are under a service contract. Directors on the Board of Directors are also not eligible, but directors who simultaneously function as an employee (usually a high-ranking employee with a title such as department head) are eligible.

The premium rate differs according to the employer’s industry type, and the employer pays a larger percentage than the employee. For example, if an employer is in a general industry type, meaning the employer is not of agriculture, forestry, fishery, sake production or construction industries, the employer will pay a 0.60% premium and the employee 0.30%.

 

WORKERS ACCIDENT COMPENSATION INSURANCE

 

Worker’s accident compensation insurance provides medical care allowance for work and commuting related injuries, diseases and deaths, as well as compensation allowance for unpaid medical leave period that exceeds four days.

 

The same rule applies for directors as with unemployment insurance, but there are two ways in which representative directors and directors may become eligible. One way is to apply for Special Enrolment, which has several requirements such as industry type and number of employees. The second way is to receive unemployment insurance eligibility as a director who simultaneously functions as an employee. Representative directors are not eligible for unemployment insurance and therefore not applicable for this second method.

Premiums are covered by the employer. The rate depends on the employer’s industry type, and can vary from 0.25% to 10.3%. Common industry types are finance, insurance and real estate (0.25%), warehousing and security (0.7%), and wholesale/retail trade, restaurant, and lodging (0.4%).

Employers pay an additional 0.002% premium for asbestos insurance, which funds asbestos health damage relief.

 

ALTERNATIVE HEALTH UNIONS

 

While most employers register with public health insurance, alternative health unions exist for particular industries (employer will opt out of the standard Health Insurance scheme). Premiums are usually cheaper, and the benefits are at a higher level than the standard scheme). Employers can enroll if certain requirements are met.

 

Employers can also enroll in a pension fund, which insures employees with increased pension benefits upon reaching pensionable age.

 

PENSION FUNDS AND SUPPLEMENTAL INSURANCES

 

401K: Most employers simply use the government pension scheme, but some multi-national companies will employ an equivalent of a 401K plan in Japan, managed by a third party. The employer would set the thresholds and matching scheme and engage a third party. Typically, there are minimum headcounts required to employ such a plan in Japan.

 

Most smaller MNC employers do not provide supplemental insurances since the standard insurances cover most items. However, some larger MNCs do provide life insurance/top up insurance and travel insurance. Directors and Officers Liability (D&O) Insurance is common as well for senior executives.

 

Employees

Salary Payment

Wages must be paid to the workers in currency, directly, in full, at least once a month, and on a fixed date. It’s common to pay between the 25th – 31st of the month for current month salary. If salary is paid in arrears, it’s usually by the 10th of the following month.

Payslip

Online, pdf or paper.

Timesheets and Record Keeping

Pursuant to the Labor Standards Law, the following records must be maintained at each workplace for three years:

  • a wage ledger, showing paid amounts and the basis of calculation (including hours worked);

  • a workers’ roster; and

  • other related documents on hiring and compensation.

Holiday Allowance

The maximum work day is six days a week, and employers are obligated to give a minimum of one holiday a week. This one-day holiday does not need to be any particular date, and it is not mandatory to give public holidays as company holidays. However, it is common practice to give two company holidays a week (usually, Saturdays and Sundays) plus public holidays if such holidays fall on weekdays. Japan has around 16 national holidays each year. In addition, most companies are closed from December 29th to January 3rd even though only Jan 1st is a national holiday. Many Japanese companies are also closed for up to one week in August for Obon holidays.

Annual Leave

Under Japan’s labour laws, all full-time employees are guaranteed the minimum 10 days of paid annual leave per year after serving an initial six months of employment, irrespective of race or gender, and were present for at least 80% of the hours they were supposed to be working.

The statutory minimum number of paid vacation days per year, in addition to the company holidays, are:

Length of Continuous Service 6 months 1st year and 6 months 2nd year and 6 months 3rd year and 6 months 4th year and 6 months 5th year and 6 months 6th year and 6 months onward
Number of entitled annual leave days 10 11 12 14 16 18 20

Usually, the full entitlement of annual leave for a given year is granted (received) on either the annual anniversary of employment, or on a standard day each year that applies to all employees.

Following the entry into force of the special rules applicable to willing high-level professionals on April 1st, 2019, qualifying employees will have to take holidays of no less than 104 days per year and no less than four days every four weeks. Their employers must grant them at least one holiday (two weeks in a row) every year and other prescribed health support.

 

Sick Leave

  • In general, there is no sick leave rights in Japan. When employees get sick, they use their paid vacation to take leave of absence. Some foreign companies grant sick leave to their employees as a special benefit. There is no requirement to grant sick leave unless the work rules or employment contract stated otherwise. Employees who are absent from work due to non-work related sickness or injury are not entitled to pay from their employer.

  • Employees are covered by workers’ accident insurance in the cases of injury, illness, disability or death resulting from employment. In the case of work-related accidents, there are a number of benefits available.

  • Under employees’ health insurance coverage, employees are entitled to two-thirds of the applicable standard wage (calculated according to a specific formula) as illness/injury allowance after three days of absence for 18 months. However, if the employer offers the employee any wages during this period, the allowance will be reduced by the amount received.

  • Dismissal is rarely an immediate option, and work rules often include a suspension period (e.g., from three to six months) during which the employee needs not perform his/her duties but maintains a contractual relationship with the employer. If the employee recovers during this period and can return to work, he/she will be reinstated. If the employee does not recover within this period, the employer can give notice of termination. Various rules can be adopted in this respect, and the duration and reasons for suspension will vary.

Maternity Leave

  • Before birth: Maternity leave of six weeks before childbirth (or within fourteen weeks in the case of two or more expected children) must be granted to expecting mothers.

  • After birth: Employees cannot work before eight weeks have passed since childbirth. However, once six weeks has passed since childbirth, an employee can submit a request to work, and the employer can allow her to perform duties that are approved by a doctor.

  • It is not mandatory to pay an employee during maternity leave. If no wages are paid, the employee is paid two-thirds of her base wage for up to 14 weeks from her health insurance. If paid from health insurance, this allowance is non-taxable.

  • Employers are prohibited by the Act on Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment from treating a female employee disadvantageously because of maternity leave. Therefore, employees can resume the same job on the same working conditions after maternity leave.

Paternity Leave

Effective 1st October 2022, employees are entitled to 4 weeks flexible paternity leave. This leave can be taken within the first 8 weeks after childbirth, and applications to the Employer must be submitted at least 2 weeks in advance. Wages are paid by social security at the same rate as maternity leave (two-thirds of base wage).

Child Care Leave

  • An employee that is raising a child (biological or adopted) that is less than one year old and is willing to continue to work after child care leave must be allowed to take parental leave until the child reaches one year of age. If both the father and mother take child care leave, the leave period is extended until the child reaches one year and two months.

  • The leave period may be extended until the child reaches two years if:

-The employee wants to register with daycare but is unable to, or

-If the employee’s spouse that was looking after the child and was planning to continue to do so after the child turns one year old cannot do so due to their death, injury or illness.

  • It is not mandatory to pay the employee during child care leave. If no wages are paid or only a partial wage below 80% of base wage is paid, the employee will be paid from half to two-thirds of their base wage from their unemployment insurance.

Child care leave can be taken on an hourly basis, but if taken on an hourly basis, the hourly leave must commence from the employee’s usual daily start time or end at the daily finish time.

Employees who work for four hours or less per day are also entitled to take child care leave on an hourly basis.

Child care leave is entitled to all employees, including employees who have not fulfilled 1 continuous year of service (except employees on fixed-term contracts, who must fulfill at least 1 year continuous service to be entitled).

Nursing Care Leave

It is not mandatory to pay the employee during nursing care leave. If no wages are paid or only a partial wage below 80% of base wage is paid, the employee is paid 40-80% of the base pay from their unemployment insurance.

Nursing care leave can be taken on an hourly basis, but if taken on an hourly basis, the hourly leave must commence from the employee’s usual daily start time or end at the daily finish time. Employees who work for four hours or less per day are also entitled to take child care leave on an hourly basis.

Other Leaves

It is common to give leave for marriage, death of a relative, etc., and these would be defined in the Rules of Employment.

Benefits to the Employee in Japan

ACCOMMODATIONS

Specific neighbourhoods in Tokyo are comfortable and foreigner-friendly, making them popular among expats. These neighbourhoods are Minato-ku (Aoyama, Azabu, Roppongi and Shirokane), Meguro-ku (Nakameguro and Jiyugaoka), and Shibuya-ku (Hiroo, Daikanyama and Ebisu). In Yokohama, the popular area is Naka-ku. There are many international schools, shops and restaurants with English-speaking staff. Expats can decide on the best place to live based on where they work, access to school for their children and the type of lifestyle they lead.

TRANSPORTATION

Whether traveling near or far, the vast network of Japanese public transportation, especially train and shinkansen, provides a fast and efficient way of reaching your destination.

FOOD

Dining in Tokyo or any of Japan’s large cities will give you an unforgettable experience. In addition to the wide selection of Japanese food, you can find world-class international cuisine, with a particularly good selection of Chinese, Italian, French and Indian restaurants.

Tokyo is known for having retained its position as the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world for 12 years in a row.

OVERTIME RATES

For non-exempt employees, the maximum work hours are 40 hours a week, eight hours a day.

In order for the employer to order overtime work, a labour-management agreement (36 Agreement) that provides for the maximum overtime work to be performed must be concluded with the union or the employee representative and submitted to the respective labour standards inspection office. For overtime work, minimum rates of overtime must be paid as follows:

  • Overtime work up to 60 hours per month: 25% of the hourly base pay.

  • Overtime work exceeding 60 hours per month: 50% of the hourly base pay.

  • Late night pay (work performed between 10PM and 5AM): 25% of the hourly base pay.

  • Holiday pay (work performed on the legal holiday): 35% of the hourly base pay.

EXPATS

Expats will typically have a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), annual home leave, international school, club memberships and housing under the tax efficient legal rent scheme. Some will have a car allowance. Additional Security & Drivers are rare.

ANNUAL HEALTH CHECK BENEFIT

Employees registered (over 35 years old) under the social insurance general system “Kyokai Kempo” are entitled to receive benefit for an annual physical check up at any hospitals designated by “Kyokai-kempo” 協会けんぽ. Cost supported by the employee for this check up is around JPY 7,000. More advanced check up are available for additional fees.

RECENT CHANGES IN THE LAW

Package of work-style reform bills passed by Parliament on June 29th, 2018 amending the Labor Standards Law and other employment-related laws. The provisions come into force between April 2019 and April 2020. The three pillars of the reform are as follows:

1. Overtime will be capped at 45 hours a month and 360 hours a year. If there is a temporary surge, the annual limit may be increased to 720 hours, subject to a monthly maximum of 80 hours (averaged over a period of consecutive two, three, four, five and six months) and an absolute maximum of 100 hours a month. Specific businesses are exempted, including new technology R&D. Penalties will apply in case of breach (imprisonment up to six months or a fine of up to JPY 300,000). These rules will apply to Article 36 labor management agreements covering periods from or after April 1st, 2019, but there will be a five-year moratorium for certain businesses (e.g. building and construction) and a one-year moratorium for SMEs.

  • Employees entitled to at least 10 days of annual paid leave will have to take at least five days off.

  • A work interval system have been introduced from April 2019 to try to make sure there is enough time span between two working days.

2. An exemption for high-level professionals (the so-called white-collar exemption) – this category can be exempted from overtime allowance, holiday work and late-night work compensation requirements by agreement subject to certain formalities (labor management committee resolution, filing with the authorities and individual consent). To qualify, employees must earn at least JPY 10.75 million a year and be engaged in clearly defined work requiring specific skills. These employees must take not less than 104 days off a year and will be subject to other measures to secure their well-being and good health, including health checks for those working in excess of certain working hours.

3. The equal work, equal pay principle across regular and non-regular employees – the Law on the Improvement of Employment Management for Part-Time Workers and Fixed-Term Contract Workers, the Employment Contract Law and the Workers Dispatch Law were amended to address the issue of irrational disparities and discrimination between regular and non-regular employees, including dispatched workers. The changes become effective as of April 1st, 2020, with a partial one-year moratorium for SMEs.

Visas and Foreign Workers

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

Procedure for obtaining approval: Foreign nationals need to apply for and obtain a certificate of eligibility (Zairyu Shikaku Nintei Shomei Sho) in Japan from the immigration authority. A foreign national must apply for a certificate of eligibility at the immigration authority himself/herself if he/she happens to be in Japan, or through his/her potential employer or qualified representative (attorney or administrative scrivener).

 

The foreign national also needs to apply for (showing the certificate of eligibility) and obtain a visa from the Japanese consulate or embassy in the country where he/she resides.

Upon arriving at the airport in Japan, the foreign national needs to show the certificate of eligibility at immigration control and receives a seal of landing permission (that is, a working visa) stamped in his/her passport and a residence card (Zairyu Kaado).

On arriving in Japan, the foreign national must notify the local city office of his/her place of residence.

There is no formal quotas giving preferences to Japanese or other nationals apply.

The time required from application to issuance of the certificate of eligibility is around one-three months (depending on factors such as the time required for any inquiries to an application or submission of additional documents).

The time required from application to issuance of a working visa is about one week.

When the employee continues to stay in Japan under the same residence card (Zairyu Kaado), the employee must apply to renew the period of stay before the expiration of the current period of stay.

 

TYPES OF VISA

 

Short-term stay visa, up to 90 days: holders can engage in business meetings or training. Depending on the country, this visa is automatically issued on arrival. Some countries require pre-application and authorization.

 

For longer-term stay, one needs to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) (processing time from 4-12 weeks). Once the COE is issued, this must be converted into an actual visa within three months.

Common Visa types

  • Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services
  • Intra-company transferee visa (generally used for employees assigned to work in Japan from overseas)
  • Highly skilled visa – Highly Skilled Professional visa

 

RESTRICTIONS

Working visas only cover the kind of work that requires high level of professional knowledge or skills. It is therefore not possible for foreigners to engage in manual/simple labour under a working visa, unless they have the visa granted according to the family status (spouse/child of Japanese national, long term resident, etc.), a trainee visa, or are part-time workers on student or dependent visas.

 

 

Public Holidays in 2022

S.No Occasion Date
1 New Year’s Day January 1st
2 Coming-of-Age Day January 10th
3 National Foundation Day February 11th
4 Emperor’s Birthday February 23rd
5 Vernal Equinox Day March 21st
6 Shōwa Day April 29th
7 Constitution Memorial Day May 3rd
8 Greenery Day May 4th
9 Children’s Day May 5th
10 Marine Day July 18th
11 Mountain Day August 11th
12 Respect for the Aged Day September 19th

13

Autumn Equinox Day September 23rd
14 Health and Sports Day October 10th
15 Culture Day November 3rd
16 Labour Thanksgiving Day November 23rd

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