Japan

Overview

Japan, a sovereign island nation in East Asia consists of four islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, making nearly 98% of land area. It has the world’s 3rd largest economy by nominal GDP and the 4th largest economy by purchasing power parity (PPP).

Ranked as one of most innovative countries in the world, Japan is the world’s largest electronic goods producer and the 3rd largest automobile manufacturing country. It generally has a surplus in annual trade and international investment. The workforce in the country is highly qualified and skilled that prove to be instrumental in organizational growth.

Currency: Japanese Yen

Principal language: Japanese

Government: Based on a constitution that stipulates the division of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches

Capital City: Tokyo

Major Cities: Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Kobe

Employment Contracts

Both employers and employees, under the Labor Contract Act, are required to enter an employment agreement in writing. Though employers can establish a probationary period of up to 1 year, periods varying from 3 to 6 months are common.

The duration of fixed-term contracts is usually not more than 3 years, and 5 years for highly skilled professionals and employees aged over 60. Employers with 10 or more employees must establish a set of work rules, submit them to a Labor Standards Inspection Office, and publicize them in the workplace by distributing copies to employees, posting them in the workplace, or in any other way.

Work/Time Regulations

Under the Labor Standards Act, work schedule should not be more than 8 hours per day or 40 per week. However, flexible work schedules are also prevalent. Work hours above these ceilings are considered overtime. Employers should provide at least 1 rest day per week or 4 days in a 4 week period to employees. Employers should also provide rest periods of minimum 45 minutes if the work schedule exceeds six hours or 1 hour if the work schedule goes beyond 8 hours per day.

Rest periods don’t apply:

  • for workers in agriculture, animal husbandry, or fishing
  • for supervisors, managers, and persons handling confidential matters
  • for individuals engaged in intermittent labor or keeping watch if employers obtain approval from a Labor Standards Inspection Office.

Leave

Holidays

The declaration of a national holiday doesn’t bind private businesses, and it is not mandatory for employers to provide paid or unpaid leave for such holidays.

The national holidays that are listed by the government every year are:

  • 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
  • 3rd Monday in July: Marine Day
  • August 11: Mountain Day
  • 3rd Monday in September: Respect for the Aged Day
  • Autumnal Equinox (date in September varies)
  • 2nd Monday in October: Health and Sports Day
  • Nov. 3: Culture Day
  • Nov. 23: Labor Thanksgiving Day
  • Dec. 23: Emperor's Birthday

A national holiday falling on a Sunday is observed the next day. Government offices, non-retail businesses, and banks remain closed on national holidays, but several stores and restaurants remain open.

Maternity Leave
Female employees can take a maternity leave of maximum 6 weeks before the expected date of delivery and maximum 14 weeks if they are expected to give birth to more than 1 child. They must take 8 weeks’ of leave after the delivery date. Employers are required to pay wages during maternity leave if work rules require it. Employment insurance compensates 60% of employees’ wages.

Child Care Leave
Male or female employees can take up to 1 year of partially paid child care leave until the child is 1 year old and in certain circumstances until the child is 18 months old. This leave begins after maternity leave. Employers can refuse a request for child care leave if the applicable collective bargaining agreement does not have the provision of granting this leave to an employee and if:

  • the employee has worked for less than 1 year
  • the employment relationship will end before the child turns 1 year old in the case of fixed-term employment
  • the employee works for 2 or fewer days in a week

Employers are required to pay wages during child care leave if work rules require it. Employment insurance funded by the government compensate 30% of employees’ wages during a leave.

Family Care Leave
Employees are entitled to take partially paid family care leave if a family member requires constant care for 2 or more weeks due to sickness, injury, physical, or mental disability. Employees can take 2 forms of family care leave:

  • 5 days in a year to care for 1 family member or 10 days in a year to care for 2 or more family members
  • A maximum of 93 days every time a family member requires care

Instead of taking full leave for 93 days, employees can request flexible or shorter hours during this period.

Sick Child Service
Employees who are raising a child below elementary school age can take unpaid leave to care for their child in case of an injury or illness. This leave is limited to 5 working days per year for parents who have 1 preschool-age child and 10 days for those with 2 or more.

Leave due to Death in the Family
Though not required by the law, employers usually allow employees to take a maximum of 5 days paid leave for the demise of a family member, mother, father, child, or spouse. Also, a maximum of 3 days leave is allowed for the death of a grandchild, grandparent, sibling, spouse’s parent, or child’s spouse.

Benefits

The official retirement age is 62 as of 2017 and will increase to 65 by 2025. Employees in Japan must be covered by the National Pension system which provides pension benefits. This system is administered by the Japan Pension Service and includes the compulsory Employees’ Pension Insurance Program. Employers contribute the same amount as employees. Foreign employees who have made contributions to the national pension system for a minimum of 6 months but not more than 25 years can withdraw lump-sum amount within 2 years of leaving Japan.

Workers' Compensation
Employees are required to contribute to government-operated program insurance program that compensates employees for work-related illnesses and injuries. The program provides compensation for a percentage of lost wages, medical expenses, and disability expenses. If an illness or injury causes an employee’s death, employers compensate employee’s survivors for funeral expenses and also provide a pension or a lump-sum benefit to them.

How GPS can Help

With our Global PEO/Employer of Record services, companies can expand into Japan and hire their employees without having to establish a branch office or subsidiary in Japan.

  • Your candidate is hired via our Japan PEO. If needed, we can also help you find the right talent in any country with our comprehensive global staffing services.
  • Your new employee begins work quickly as we take care of employment contracts, statutory and non-statutory benefits, and running their payroll - all in full compliance with Japan laws.
  • Global PEO Services experts manage all day-to-day operational issues such as employee expenses, and severance/termination if required.
  • With no contractor risks, pass on the compliance burden to Global PEO Services.

Spin Off/M&A Support

  • Ensure continuity of payroll, benefits and HR support when acquiring or spinning off a business with employees overseas.

24/7 Support in 100+ Countries

  • Empower your teams with 24/7 support and a single point-of-contact model in which experienced client services directors are in continuous communication with information and advice.
  • We are backed by a mix of 300+ multidisciplinary experts from HR, Payroll, Finance, Tax, and Legal domains who are ready to respond to the expected and unexpected needs of your business on the shortest notice.

Easy Visibility into Your Employee Time & Attendance and Benefits Data
With our Global PEO, you get access to Mihi, our proprietary SaaS solution for time and attendance, vacation, leave management and benefits enrollment and managements. Mihi enables clients to have easy access to employee data in real time. It is designed specifically for companies with a global workforce, especially when working in multiple countries with low headcounts.

Ready for Growth When You Are
When ready, we can seamlessly transition you from the PEO/EOR model to your own legal entity and provide ongoing international HR, finance, legal, compliance and staffing support. Lean more about our end-to-end international expansion services.