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Japan eyes compulsory 5 days' paid holiday a year

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Equally important as benefits to worker health and the tourist/leisure industry if Japanese workers take more time off productivity will increase. Research has shown again and again that well rested workers are more productive and, importantly for Japan at the moment, more creative/innovative; facts long overlooked by Japanese business managers who continue to value loyalty over productivity with the cost of this approach self-evident by looking at productivity rates and competitiveness compared to other industrialized nations.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

5 days? How generous.People need more time off to recharge and be more productive in work and in life.Feeling tired all the time is a major problem for workers in Japan.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

A positive move. They could also abolish Shogatsu, and other state-ordered "extended holiday periods" and instead allow workers to choose their own vacations.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

JeffLeeFEB. 05, 2015 - 07:10AM JST A positive move. They could also abolish Shogatsu, and other state-ordered "extended holiday periods" and instead allow workers to choose their own vacations.

Why would that be necessary? Just add the five days and people could take a real vacation from work, particularly at Obon.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

How about taking all the days off. A happy rested worker is a productive worker.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

And companies will fill out the false paper work "proving" that it has been taken.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

Workers should be allowed to take as least two weeks off in one go and should have more flexibility over their holiday period. When everyone travels at the same time in Japan, prices for transportation and accommodation spike because of high demand and there are much greater wait on highways and at airports.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Japan eyes compulsory 5 days' paid holiday a year

Including or excluding Saturdays, Sunday and National holidays?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good idea, beneficial to workers & their families. The extra 5 days should also boost Japan's morale. . . . Good to see some change going on-

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At my previous company taking an entire week off was absolutely unheard of. In fact, some bucho level mgrs. wouldn't even allow their staff to supplement obon or GW holidays, mandating that they come at least one day that week. That seemed the exception--the norm was that no one dared request such a thing in the first place, so worried about colleagues having to handle their workload in their absence. I simply don't know how superior economies around the world pull off such magical things. Like women suddenly becoming equal partners in the workforce, talk from on high and the reality on the ground--I cannot imagine them aligning.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Consider this....IF someone works for a typical company that has weekends and holidays off, that accounts for what, 120 days off per year. 365 - 120 = 245 divide that by 12 and it comes to about 20 days of work per month.

Every month with some exceptions based upon location, has a holiday, this year has two long breaks, Golden Week and Silver week as well.

The problem is not with time off it is with HOW people work WHILE they are at work. Way too much "make-work" and "act-like-one-is-working" and then go out and drink after work.

Go home, use your time wisely, and the government won't need to get involved.

Oh wait, it's the government that wants this, that means it doesnt care about the private sector, they are just making excuses to give themselves more time off!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

They need auditors to come in and find people working off the clock. WHen that happens, huge fines. They did it in the US, and unpaid OT is pretty rare. This is a case, where they need to enforce the basic rules, otherwise everything else is just fluff.

WHat is stopping people from coming to work on their day off?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The article is poorly written, Japan has 15 statutory holidays while Spain has 32 paid holidays? Do they mean paid holidays = paid vacation days? or does paid holidays include also include statutory holidays? I assume the term statutory holiday means "national holiday" which is separate from "paid vacation days" So, do Spanish workers enjoy 32 paid vacation days on top of their national holidays or it's all combined?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Only five days? They should make it compulsory for people to take ALL their paid vacation time off. And, I wonder what the penalties will be for companies that do not allow workers to take their vacations, if any.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I get 2 weeks off around Christmas and over new year. Also holidays during the year, total of around 4 weeks or something.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

18.5 days? When I asked my company for a paid leave they said they can only provide two weeks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Employer groups have proposed for limiting the number of compulsory days of to three ". WTF...what a daimyo / slave mentality. They should be encouraging their workers to take their legally available days off instead of limiting it. Back home when in my old company if I carried over leave days from a previous year and the total exceeded a set benchmark - the HR would call and say those days off gotta be taken otherwise it becomes an OH & S issue.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is Japan. I'm surprised workers get 5 mandatory days off. Hopefully it increases soon, but glad the Japanese got at least this much.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

5 days? How generous.People need more time off to recharge and be more productive in work and in life.Feeling tired all the time is a major problem for workers in Japan

cracaphat -- spot on. I remember reading somewhere that it takes four uninterrupted days for someone to really clear their mind and start to get the benefit of vacation time. Which makes sense, since I always used to laugh that the Monday mornings after holiday periods in Japan were no different than any others -- with all the salarymen sound asleep.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

IF someone works for a typical company that has weekends and holidays off

That is a rather large IF. I know of many 'typical' companies that expect people to come in at the weekend to 'make up' for national holidays, not to mention weekends not being counted if they are part of a 'business trip'. Also local workers expected to come in on weekends a business tripper from Head Office is in town.

Having 5-day weekends when most of the country is on holiday is not a good way to boost leisure spending. Let people have their five day (or longer) holiday when it suits them, not when it happens to fit the calendar and travel is a nightmare.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

That is ok. The USA only give ZERO. There are something like 13 holidays but employers do not have to give their employees off. Thought Japan has 15 day.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/01/31/paid-holidaysvacation-days-in-the-u-s-versus-other-oecd-countries/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

5 days... FIVE????

European workers in civilised countries will start crying reading this.

They will just have to go on with their 4 to 6 weeks, as they had to for the last 40 years. But then... any people that lets itself be treated like that, deserves to be treated like that, right?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

5 days compulsory is too short for paid holiday. Many Japanese have average 20-30 paid holidays a year but can't use up many days as they are not allowed to use up all. Many people can't help using the paid holidays for someone's funeral. marriage, or own sickness, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is the first year that I've been working 6 days a week. No classes on Saturday yet, but the school is making the transition for this in 2016. I've gotten used to it over time, but I do find that I have very little desire to go anywhere on Sunday, my only day off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These"statutory holidays" are BS. While I think it's nice to have a few, there are too many in Japan. On paper it looks nice and all "(wow, 15??!!) but people need real, longer periods off from work. Not 2 or three days. Also, can we please stop doing everything together in Japan? I find nothing positive at all in the whole of Japan being off from work simultaneously.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

"Japan is considering ..",

so who exactly is "Japan"?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Mechanisation was supposed to reduce the workload on people. So was computerisation. In fact, people work more now than they did before the invention of the light bulb.

It is also interesting to compare the situation in Japan with that in Europe, where countries that reduced the number working days per week to four found that production increased. Also, some of the most productive countries have the longest annual holidays.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Imagine that. Having to tell people to take time off and have fun. The aliens will be amused.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But how will this be enforced, and how will violators be cajoled or coerced into compliance? Without this, such a law is meaningless. At least it would give a basis for union action and lawsuits, though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And companies will fill out the false paper work "proving" that it has been taken.

And the authorities will smile and pretend all is fine and stamp their little stamps and pat themselves on the back and shout: "Look, we did it! We are a modern and progressive nation!"

I find it comical that people don't use paid vacation days that they are entitled to. I find it tragic that somehow, people will work for free. These five days (hallelujah!) are much like some scamster selling a house plagued by mold - a fresh coat of paint on top of it all and sell it off like new.

The government wants to boost the amount of paid leave used to 70% by 2020...

They sure want to do many things by 2020. I am sure their many goals are not at all overly ambitious...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why not make it mandatory to use all of their paid days off? In the past, companies bought the unused days off at the end of the year. The government made that illegal. The reason stated was that people should use the days off, and if they can sell them, they won't take those days off. Well, the result was that people still can't, or won't take their days off, and companies save on the cost of buying them. Surprise, surprise.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a good move, the need to decrease the time people are working in Japan is extremely important. If you want to solve the shrinking population issue reducing hours is probably the best thing the country could do. Nobody can be expected to find a marriage partner and raise a family when they work untill 11 at night every night and come in on weekends and all that nonsense.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is Japan. I'm surprised workers get 5 mandatory days off.

They don't. This article is discussing that they may do this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Went Skiing with family last weekend. Staying one night is a waste of money(highways gasoline etc...) so m-a-d-e my wife ask for Friday off - 2months ago. She was granted it.

But, Monday return to work was cold & unfriendly - as she said it would be - esp because co-worker from hell had to do her job last friday and she made it known all day long.

And that's just one day.

She has had 6 straight paid days off joined to 2 weekends = 10 days free, when going overseas as she said she is visiting my ailing father (true - but he's been ailing for 10+ years). Then they couldn't say anything. But the fact that we had to be sly & cunning to get the time off was regretable.

Openess & understanding would certainly help this paid holiday debacle.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

...in a country infamous for its long hours. They like to wear it as a badge of honor that they are so "hardworking." I am sick of hearing it. A seven-hour meeting is not work, per se. I point out that productivity is relatively low and the room goes silent. Either way, I get compensated well and get lots of time off and no longer feel sorry for anyone who doesn't.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Well, it's funny this should come up. I recently had a coworker telling me the ol' "We Japanese work harder than people from any other country" line, and I was thinking, "Uh huh. I've heard of this. But how much of that time spent at the office is actually productive, and how much is keeping up appearances? And what's the happiness quotient around here?" But leaving aside the desk nappers and paper-shufflers, most people here do work pretty darned hard (too hard compared to the results and compared to all those "lazy" countries where people are just as productive with less effort), and all the added busy work on top of the regular work and layers of difficulty and ceremony built into every task certainly add to the load.

So, yes, you'd have to make it a law in order to get this to work and actually get people to take time off. It flies in the face of the workers' social conditioning that they must be at work with all the other workers who must be at work, so unless taking time off from work is an actual work requirement, they generally won't do it. And it's not like the long hours are contractually mandated. They're simply socially obligatory. People go to the office on those statutory holidays as well.

And I have a feeling even if this did become compulsory, companies and eve the employees themselves would find other ways to take the time back from you because bushi forbid anyone ever have a moment's rest or unstructured time here. Man, it would make people bonkers if they didn't go see the fall leaves on the same day everyone else went to see the fall leaves.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

'Japan eyes compulsory 5 days' paid holiday a year'

Tomorrow we'll be hearing how 'Japan eyes improved English skills to be more competitive in global market'. The usual fluff which sounds nice at the time.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

If the 5 days off are seen as a group choice rather than individual preference, this can work. Make sure it's planned and agreed in advance, and schedule it into the financial year.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I like my job.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Welcome to the 20th century!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Isn't the reason the Japanese don't use their "paid time off" is because they have enough legal holidays which include long new year days off? Government needs to count how many legal days off a worker has annually. I bet it's more than 12, if not 15.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

My company has compulsory "no overtime" day every Wednesday. Everybody works overtime regardless. The same will happen with this ridiculous plan.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Time to form a panel to think about it! In any case, if it WERE ever decided and passed into law, that does not mean it would be respected or enforced. They'd be forced to 'take the holidays' at work. Nothing would change except that the government and companies could say they are doing something to combat an ever-increasing problem.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

No, the legal holidays are just days you go into the office to catch up on the work you didn't have enough time to do during your regular working hours and unpaid overtime because of all the other work you had to do. Unless you're participating in a festival, in which case you take those days off to do that but you put in even more time at the office before and after to make up for it. And I agree-- this could become compulsory and that would mean a lot of people would schedule the leave and then go to work anyway on those days anyway.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@igloobuyer

what are you talking about? japan's productivity ranks the highest in asia (a simple google check would show that). your bias and willful ignorance is staggering.

if this becomes a law, how will it be enforced, and what are the penalties? if it becomes a "guideline," which most likely will be the case, then there is no incentive to change the status quo.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

employers’ groups have proposed limiting the number of compulsory paid holidays to three days

The employer's groups are idiots. I mean what sort of employer says, "Yes, I want stressed-out, unproductive, uncreative, brain-dead workers!".

This is the real problem with the Japanese economy, that workers are so stressed out creativity and innovation are dead.

During the bubble economy years the unions were strong and workers took the leave they were owed, then came back with new ideas.

Now Japan is creating a self-reinforcing death spiral where a weaker market means more power to short-sighted employers and less power to unions. Ironically enough the unions were better for Japanese companies than the employers. Isn't that just hilarious?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

How about extending that to ensure you can take them at any time and not just May, Aug and Jan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If people don`t use their paid holidays to begin with then they are the problem. Too much drone working life in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

All that will happen is people will book the time off and come in to work anyway. My boss does that now when the bureaucracy push him to use some of his leave.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's definitely an odd experience... when I worked in a medium sized office in the states whenever people took vacations there was an excited air in the office- we would wish them off and when they got back that lunch we often got to see pictures or the occasional souvenir. Of course there was some extra legwork to do to cover for them...but there really should be no excuse or reason to complain about it... they worked hard and earned the vacation time.

It is ridiculous in any country that co-workers get upset or cold when others take vacations (As in browny's case above). All that tells me is that typical Japanese companies are hugely inefficient. Seriously, only 1 worker takes on all the work of the missing member?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Isn't the reason the Japanese don't use their "paid time off" is because they have enough legal holidays which include long new year days off? Government needs to count how many legal days off a worker has annually. I bet it's more than 12, if not 15.

Days spread out here and there probably only fool the Japanese themselves into believing that they have a generous amount of holidays. Like all things Japanese, it's only about appearance. In this case, appearance of a people with ample amount of holidays. But people need more consecutive days off from work. At times of their own choosing. Getting away from your lazy co-workers, seeing something new, truly relax takes a few days. One day at an onsen (with all the mandatory fix-ins) squeezing in there with other people in the same situation is not relaxing. I am sure many Japanese people think that's the way to go, but if so, they are just clueless.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"Now Japan is creating a self-reinforcing death spiral where a weaker market means more power to short-sighted employers and less power to unions. Ironically enough the unions were better for Japanese companies than the employers. Isn't that just hilarious?"

Yes, in our neoliberal world sacrifice is always to be made by the majority, never, ever by elites. Austerity for the masses, ever expanding riches for those riding by in gilt carriages.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Once I had a coworker that basically lived in the office during a project. When the project finished and his wife was expected to deliver their first child, he was happy to get like 2 months off to replace all the Saturdays and Sundays he came in to work. The ego-centric-self-importance boss was already planning a new project, when informed about the 2 months, boss angrily told him that he must be a Non-Japanese, because no Japanese would ever take such a long Holiday. I Bet no Japanese would ever sue their boss either, so this law is nothing more than a "show", just like everything the Japanese do today, for "Show".

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Oh wait, it's the government that wants this, that means it doesnt care about the private sector, they are just making excuses to give themselves more time off!

Government employees get the Japanese holidays off now. This law is for the private sector which often makes employees work on weekends and holidays. You do not hear about death from overwork in other countries. You do hear about it in Japan regularly.

And the fact is that if the Japanese were to work less hours they would be more productive. French employees who work the least number of hours in the world are the most productive in the world. Far more productive than workers here in Japan who work the most hours (or are second to the USA).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They could also abolish Shogatsu, and other state-ordered "extended holiday periods"

Oh HECK NO. Some of us get those off by law, thank you.

Those extended holiday periods are the best things ever.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yubaru: IF someone works for a typical company that has weekends and holidays off...

Some companies require a monthly minimum of days worked. In May, for example, employees of such firms must work on the weekend to offset the Golden Week holidays.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Average of 9 paid holidays taken plus national holidays doesn't sound too bad to me.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

Too bad some of those 9 days were taken in lieu of sick days.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seeing how my Japanese coworkers use up their allocated leave, i can see how this would pan out: 5 separate single days taken throughout the year, where they just stay home and sleep. Our company does let staff take 1 week vacations (some employees take them), but others in the office are just either very sick individuals... Taking a day off for "taichou furyou" every couple of weeks (me on the other hand would come to work even if i was on my deathbed - as if i would use up a leave day for being sick!!)

I believe the problem is mainly due to the fake 'bonus' system they use here. Everybody blames "not wanting to inconvenience my coworkers" but deep down it all comes down to them thinking that taking a vacation will affect their bonus. Same goes for just leaving at 6pm. Its all a fake system anyway - the salary is already calculated at 16 months/year, and those 4 extra months are used as carrots on sticks to get employees to work harder. Get rid of the bonus 'system', and redivide that 16 months salary into 12, and watch how people start to work smarter.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Full-time Japanese workers should get 10 mandatory days-off in addition to public holidays. It's a shame they have to squeeze overseas trip into 5 days like most do now. Cut them some slack. It's not like they're rebuilding the country after war anymore.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If the evidence is that people are more productive working 35hrs than than 60, mandate a four day week.

I know two gaishikei companies in the same industry. One has a "work hard, play hard" culture, and the other puts their emphasis on work/life balance. The former's berolexed staff are exhausted and miserable, while the latter (which has coincidentally far fewer non-Japanese employees), has much happier, supportive and creative people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am curious.....do many companies in Japan allow you to carry over unused vacation time from one year to the next?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

do many companies in Japan allow you to carry over unused vacation time from one year to the next?

They legally have to, for one year. You lose them if you don't use them by the end of that second year.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ahhh....the road paved with good intentions.

Look at us!! Read the comments. We're all YES to this! Yes, it's going to work. It will help!!!

Oh Gawd.....JWithers is about to disagree again. How on Earth could I find something wrong with this proposal. So I won't.

It's a good idea. It's what we LIKE to hear. It's what we like to hear.

My response is based on experience alone. I've seen companies play games with terminology. These companies redefined what part-time is and what full-time is.

I've SEEN companies give 15 minute breaks and on paper claim that those were NOT actual working hours. I've seen people disqualified for medical insurance and life insurance benefits based on such tactics.

I've had friends go to Hello Work who worked 40 hours a week or more to find out that their company listed them NOT as full time based on little things like the number of hours or days they worked.

So I ask myself.....how will this compulsory 5 paid holidays a year play out? Will private sector companies tack on hours here and there to make up for it and then continue to claim a part-timer isn't actually a full time employee.

Or will they avoid the 5 compulsory days off through a secretly fine printed loophole that gives them an option not to follow it?

My (at the moment) summary is this. It looks like a carrot on a stick. A bait and switch technique is soon to come. The right hand giveth while the left hand taketh away.

We must be extremely vigilant and cautious of anything that is too good to be true.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This seems to be directed at full-time workers who are becoming rarer. Now 40% of Japanese are contract workers and 30% are working poor. What kind of policy initiatives, if any, are being discussed by the authorities to offer these people some rest and relief from the spiral down, neo-liberal political economy?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm sick of this too. A long working day in a Tokyo office seems to consist of a trail of meetings and then a trail of paperwork, usually painstakingly put together on Excel by someone who can hardly type. An efficient 7-hour day is so much more productive than Japan's time-wasting approach to working life. Rested workers are way more efficient, but only if the company structure permits any form of efficiency, which mine doesn't. I swear to God that half the time people in my office are doing nothing at all day that could be considered remotely productive. Some people even post on JT when they are supposed to be in a 2-hour planning meeting for this evening's predicted snowfall, that may decide to permit workers to leave on time if they really need to. I'll find out later, after I've had a cup of tea, over which I will reflect on how selfish of me it was to take all 25 paid leave days last year, then consider how I will use this year's allowance.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The problem here is in corporate culture it is a perfect storm of inefficency.

"Managers" don't know how to use time management and allocate resources to get projects done quickly by those best suited to said projects based on individual skill sets. They also take on way too many projects so that there is rarely any "downtime" whatsoever.

Understaffing is rampant and often in any given office 1 worker NORMALLY does the job of 2. If someone does take time off or is absent that doubles. I don't see how this is something that workers can think is their faults. Poor management.

Apathy is the result of running someone down so hard that they are next to useless in terms of creativity and innovation and can only just about slog through a 12 hour day. Workers are defeated, browbeaten and lack enthusiasm or passion to ACTUALLY perform well. You know what happens if you drive a car long enough without changin' the oil? take a look at the sea of grey dispassionate faces in any office here and you will see firsthand.

The infrastructure of family dynamic/school/ all fall within a very specific schedule. The average worker with a family and kids couldn't really (they believe) easily take the kids outta school for a few days to take a trip. Nearly unheared of. Everyone goes at the designated time and the well oiled machine keeps trudging along. There is a real self imposed restriction on free will based on a real "fear" that other people would think it selfish or strange to take vacations at the "inappropriate time"
10 ( +11 / -1 )

I was going to post something but crustpunker above nailed it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

crustpunker, true, but most of the projects were only exercise in time-wasting to start with, so they didn't that many staff anyway. Seriously, in a lot of companies these projects only exist so that Japanese managers have something to judge their workers on when they perform their idiotic assessments (4 times a year at my company) to decide how much withheld income (referred to as bonus) they will pay. It's nuts. Workers here need a shorter working day and should be forced to use their paid holiday, but it won't happen anytime soon as they all wear inefficiency as a badge of honour.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

'Japan eyes compulsory 5 days' paid holiday a year'

Japan parenting again. Workers in Japan should become aware that, legally, they have the right to take about 20 days off a year.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Instead of complaining about your lack of holidays, work for yourself. Admittedly you have to work 70 hour weeks sometimes, but you can take holidays whenever you want if you plan in advance

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No matter how many laws they make the Japanese worker will not take the days and continue to do overtime work for no pay. Nice try government but you have no real control over companies.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As someone else mentioned, lawsuits are necessary to make sure companies are doing what they're legally obligated to do (ditto for women facing discrimination, sexual harrassment et al). God knows, the lawmakers aren't going to enforce anything--why jeopardize the cozy ties they have with corporations or the possibility of amakudari posts in the industries they ostensibly regulate.

Crust mentions the lack of "creativity and innovation" and in my experience, these are the last attributes managers value--they want people who follow the rules and don't ask questions, who are there 12 hrs. or more a day, productively or otherwise, who never take extended leave. Change, especially innovative ideas from below, are frowned upon and non-conformity of thought or action is absolute heresy. If you are coming up with great new ideas for improving things, that is ultimately calling into question the time-honored practices of your elders, and can only be interpreted as a critique.

As has been remarked countless times, all of these practices worked wonders during the Showa era, especially in the post-war years and one can admire the sense of sacrifice that contributed to Japan's unquestionably spectacular rise. That they continue to be embraced a quarter century after the bubble exploded, that alternatives continue to be shunned to this day...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Being a Gaijin working for Japanese company, its a nightmare to take 5 days continuous holiday. I took it once and my Japanese manager asked me to carry my SecureID, Laptop and Blackberry so that I will be available all the time for any help. That's not enough, later I consume my 10 paid leaves in 8 months time as my wife was pregnant and I need to take her to hospital once in 2 weeks, at the end of 8 months time they send me for medical checkup in a company owned clinic and later fired me on medical ground that I am not fit for work.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Gawd, Japan is so far behind its ridiculous. At the job I currently work at I automatically get 5 paid days off (to be scheduled to my choosing) for each YEAR I work. It maxes out at about 3~4 weeks paid time off after 4 years.

Japanese corporations need to get over the idea that working longer = productivity. They need to understand that only time used productively (instead of pretending to work, employees should be actually working) equals getting work done. When that work is finished on time, then there is time to prepare for other things, or take a break.

To top that off, my work schedule is 40hrs a week (4day x 10hr) work schedule which gives me 3 days off straight. I had suggested this to my company and the managers took too it quite well and it spread quickly. I had experienced this work schedule before at another company before quite long ago, and loved it. My business is still open 5 business days a week, but the schedules are planned so that there are always enough employees to cover all 5 business days even though each employee has only 4 days they have to work.

It helps reduce the need for overtime since many employees are obligated to stay and get work done for 10 hours, and is scheduled so that other employees 10hr schedules overlap so when it's time for one to go home, the later scheduled employee's can take over from the previous one and finish any projects etc.

It also helped reduce the amount of "sick" days employees took (and quitters), because the 3 day "weekend" gave many employees time to rest up very well and get business done so they didn't feel the desire to take a "random" day off.

I can't remember too well, but I think one country has a federal mandate that the 4day x 10hr schedule is required for all businesses.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Disillusioned While ideally you are right, realistically no government can ignore the voice of Industry. Further, as a huge number of comments allude to, there are typically a million ways for companies to dodge such laws, and it will be the rare employee that challenges it because even if he wins the lawsuit his days with the company are over. So the only realistic law is one Industry is at least somewhat willing to accept.

If they are actually willing to concede to 5 days (which is to say they'd honor it), I'd call it progress.

As General Comments go, ultimately, Japan has to change its zeitgeist if these things are really going to work. The problem is that compared to the very visible presence of a body, the idea that by reducing an employee's work hours by X he'd be more creative is far more abstract to an employer. Besides, while creative employees are the banner holders of a company and may well decide whether a company is competitive, ultimately truly creative employees are limited and all the "pro-creativity" efforts can only stretch the count from say 10-20%. For the rest of them, stoic work is the best that can be expected, and that work is relatively insensitive to fatigue. Which only reduces an employer's willingness to concede.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Gawd, Japan is so far behind its ridiculous. At the job I currently work at I automatically get 5 paid days off (to be scheduled to my choosing) for each YEAR I work.

Yeah, that's pretty far below the norm for Japanese companies. In my office most people get 15-20 days + national holidays, and by and large they take them. Not all in one big chunk, mind you, but they get taken.

There's plenty of bad examples of Japanese companies with poor working environments especially in fields like IT, but I think it's quite a bit worse from my experience in the US.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The law says they must be GIVEN ten days compulsory leave, so if they have to TAKE compulsory leave then it should be the full ten days. Otherwise it's just a nod to companies to tell them it's okay to force their staff not to use some of their allotted leave.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whenever I see movements like this, which focus on making people take more days off, and then talking about how the days should be consecutive, the cynic in me thinks that the government just wants people going on trips and spending money; we all know that the government cares far more for keeping those consumption taxes rolling in than it does for the people's well-being.

I'd much rather see a campaign to limit the number of hours in a day. This is what's so soul-killing about Japanese companies. You get up on Monday morning knowing that with five 12-to-14-hour days ahead of you, your exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and misery are only going to increase -- until Saturday when you can sleep in (and then get a form of jetlag). When I had this kind of schedule, with 60 hours of work to do every week, I wanted to get enough sleep on the weekdays and would have been willing to come in on Saturday to make up for it. Instead, the company treated the weekends as sacred (OK) but completely ignored the health risks of being at work from 9 AM to the last train every weekday.

The 8-hour day has become standard for a reason, and I'd like it to be even shorter. When you're home for dinner every day and always get enough sleep, you're a more efficient worker and a healthier person.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ild be happy if companies here would pay for the overtime they demand. Its slave labor.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

budgieFEB. 05, 2015 - 03:04PM JST

The law says they must be GIVEN ten days compulsory leave, so if they have to TAKE compulsory leave then it should be the full ten days. Otherwise it's just a nod to companies to tell them it's okay to force their staff not to use some of their allotted leave.

I really doubt it actually said that - it says companies must give ten days leave, but they won't call it compulsory for the employee to take it. This is what's new about this law.

The problem with Japan and trying to get labor laws in is IMO that "ganbaru" and commitment to the group is (as a national average - if you want to find exceptions I'm sure they are there) ingrained into Japanese society that it is difficult to work out where the coercion ends and voluntariness starts. Most companies probably will not "force" their staff in the sense of overt threats. Rather they will say something like "But we really need you" or "This project is important" or they will just create an atmosphere of such. And the guy will give up some of his legally permitted leave - it is hard to say whether it is coercion or voluntary.

The complainers here come from different zeitgeists and just cannot see for example people staying until the boss leaves as anything but stupidity and / or implied coercion from the boss. And if the boss objects to my leave request on the basis of the company, that's just coercion. However, very likely to the Japanese colleagues, the different zeitgeist means they literally do not feel as coerced in all these cases, and it is important when looking at such cases to make this allowance as well.

ThonTaddeoFEB. 05, 2015 - 03:42PM JST

Whenever I see movements like this, which focus on making people take more days off, and then talking about how the days should be consecutive, the cynic in me thinks that the government just wants people going on trips and spending money; we all know that the government cares far more for keeping those consumption taxes rolling in than it does for the people's well-being.

And that's a win win. Spending money means people are enjoying themselves (hoepefully).

The 8-hour day has become standard for a reason, and I'd like it to be even shorter. When you're home for dinner every day and always get enough sleep, you're a more efficient worker and a healthier person.

Actually both are important. As a person who works 55.75 hours a week (and obviously not working all the time :-) ), given the choice I'll prefer they shrink it to 50 hours by giving me my full Saturday back than reducing my workhours a day.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have never understood why Japanese people are so reluctant to take time off for holidays. My ex once told me she was afraid that if she took time off her boss would think that they can run the office without her just fine so sack her when she returned to work. I don't know if that was paranoia or a genuine concern with Japanese workers...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why should people be forced to take time off if they don't want to? A lot of people actually enjoy their work and like to spend their time doing it.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"5 days... FIVE????

European workers in civilised countries will start crying reading this."

Looks like somebody didn't understand what's written!

The law places a burden on employees to actually take time off.

In other words an Employee will be forced, whether he/she likes it or not to take at least 5 days holiday a year.

Nothing to do with Companies denying paid holidays!

"Workers typically use less than half their leave in a year, according to a survey by the labor ministry which found that in 2013 employees took only nine of their 18.5 days average entitlement."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Ooooo, five whole days! We're being spoilt. This is bollocks. Why not four weeks, with threats to employers who discriminate against staff who take the holidays?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I have 33 days paid holiday time per year, plus 8 public holidays. No-one forces me to take the time off.

I would love to see a survey asking WHY Japanese people are reluctant to take their entitled leave. THAT would be the interesting subject.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They should impose this equally not only to the regular employees but also to employees under agency. Here in Gifu ken Gaijins work twice as hard as the regular employees but often get half of what we deserve because the agencies are stealing from the workers including the number of paud yukyo. That's why foreign workers are afraid to use paid leave to keep the count intact and not be stolen by the agencies we belong to. Only regular Japanese employees have the right amount of rest for conclusion

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How i wish to enjoy this paid holidays and other benifits of the company but sad to say none of the above i mention. I've been working here in japan 2years but our company didn't give everythings. My company TRIUMP co LTD. please help us.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How would such a law be enforced? Are companies to be prosecuted for not exploiting their workers? This turns the essence of what capitalism is on its head! This proposal is already gathering dust.....

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Typical japanese nonsense. The law should force slave drivers er employers to allow a minimum 4 weeks holiday for their slaves. Prison for slave drivers who ignore the law.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Rather silly. People here spend long hours at work, but most don't spend long hours working. The amount of productivity is absurdly low. The average salaryman spends about 5 work days per month playing cell phone games on the toilet.

At a friend's company, the staff used to work until 10 or 11 every night. But then their Japanese manager was fired, and a new manager from the UK was brought in. The new manager was rather astounded by the hours put in, and the amount of work done. He told the staff that from the next month, they would have to complete all their work, and leave the office by 7pm each day. This caused a general panic among the staff members, who thought it would be impossible to do their work in that little time. But, not surprisingly, such was not the case. Reducing the work day by 3 to 4 hours did not reduce productivity in the slightest. But it did mean that the salarymen had to limit themselves to one 15 minute toilet break each day, rather than the two 30 minute breaks they had been used to taking.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

sangetsu03

When I first arrived in Japan I had a conversation about working with a Japanese businessman who had spent time working overseas, and he told me exactly the same story. He said that whilst Japanese people spend long hours at the office, they work neither harder, nor more productively that anyone else - in fact the opposite was true. He said that in his time in Australia he found that people worked hard between 9 and 5 to get the same amount of work done that it would take Japanese people to do between 9 and, say, 10/11pm.

His advice was 'When Japanese people tell you they are working hard, take it with a grain of salt.'

Despite this though, I do think there should be more time spent with those other people in their lives called 'Family'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These "employers groups" seem to be full of terrible managers that are not really manager material. Limit to 3 days a year? Get real. I'm not going to work for the deadbeat "managers" that are in these "employers' groups". And yes, Tamarama, working in Australia is great. At least you get more of a balanced lifestyle. I used to do the Japanese-style work routine, and all I got for it was nothing more than years of being really sick (some of the effects I'm still feeling today, many years after), loss of relationships (you're spending all the time in the office, how the heck are you going to actually be able to put work into relationships with anyone), and just a terrible life!

I respect the Japanese as a whole, but this one I really have to come out and say that you really need to get some backbone and stick up for yourselves. It's your health, and in many cases, also your family/loved ones' wellbeing that is on the line....and time you'll NEVER get back.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A co-worker doomed by her "permanent" job, is working Monday to Friday from 7am to 12 am, in case is a working day before her day off, she works past 2 am. She says that she must, as another woman got "fired" for being pregnant, now she has to do the work of 2 people. She earns NOTHING for this. In fact she is only wasting her life.

I wish there was a kind of place, website or something people could go to report this sort of abuse.

In my company as in most of places, we are encouraged to ONLY ask for paid holidays if we are very sick or there is an emergency. Our contracts say we must ask for paid holidays with 1 week in advance or it may be denied.

" Oh, I'm sorry, I'll be sick in a week, please let me have a paid holiday"

That company is horrible, however, you can plan to have a medical check up in a paid holiday and prevent getting seriously sick

Gawd, Japan is so far behind its ridiculous. At the job I currently work at I automatically get 5 paid days off (to be scheduled to my choosing) for each YEAR I work. It maxes out at about 3~4 weeks paid time off after 4 years.

Japanese corporations need to get over the idea that working longer = productivity. They need to understand that only time used productively (instead of pretending to work, employees should be actually working) equals getting work done. When that work is finished on time, then there is time to prepare for other things, or take a break.

I'm amazed too by this, I didn't think that working 14-16 hours daily meant productivity, but rather only a couple of these hours were "for show" or to be in the Boss' good books, but actually, it seems you can have the same work done with considerable less.

My case is similar to yours, I work in a mining company, so is far from the city and we have special transportation, so unless you have access to a pick up truck and a driver's license provided by the company you cannot stay late for work, because if you miss the bus, nobody can take you home and you cannot sleep in the offices (there are some exceptions of working very late, but are really really rare)

There are two types of shifts:

Continuous shift of 7 days of 12 hours each (with 1 hour of lunch) either by day or night and then 7 days off (that's por operators of machinery in the mine or the plant)

A shift of 4 days of work of 11,5 x 3 days +10,5 x 1 day (Monday to Thursday) and then 3 days off, this is for clerk and administrative workers.

National holidays that are between Monday to Thursday are compensated with a day off, but regulated in such way that you take it immediately (say if you have a holiday on a Tuesday, they move it to Monday and if the holiday is on a Thursday that day you don't go to work), but if the holiday is on a Friday you are not compensated since you don't go to work.

By law, you cannot work more than 45 hours a week, with a maximum of 2 hours of overtime each day, legally you are entitled to 15 business days of vacation but in my company is 18, which means if you combine well holidays and your vacation you can get a whole month.

Of course, you really need to have your work done and then find someone who will be substituting you, however, it goes both ways, when you coworker goes on vacation you have to cover for him/her. it is pretty important tho' that you organize yourself, do your work in time, and then leave very little to do when you are on vacation, in my case, I know that May is the best month to go away since the workload of what i do is the minimum, and for many of my colleagues could be February (it is summer here in that month) or September (Independence day holiday) so it can be a good system to take your vacation

1 ( +1 / -0 )

By law, you cannot work more than 45 hours a week, with a maximum of 2 hours of overtime each day, legally you are entitled to 15 business days of vacation but in my company is 18, which means if you combine well holidays and your vacation you can get a whole month.

My partner says it is a real pain to take holidays because other staff will bully her afterwards.......we have to improve legal issues regarding bullying to get more people to take holidays and not feel guilty. The other issue is that companies have no incentive to provide holidays. In some countries, companies are penalized with extra taxes for each employee that did not take at least a majority of their holidays........

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My partner says it is a real pain to take holidays because other staff will bully her afterwards

Yeah I've noticed that the main obstacle in taking a vacation is that the workers worry to lose their job, being bullied or lose a chance of a promotion, it's a cultural problem, and it happens in other countries too, it seems that in Japan is more common, though.

I remember that when I arrived the first time at the company I was working with a lady boss that liked to stay late working, she worked hard but she was kinda slow in some aspects of the job, I just came back from the U.S. so I got used to do stuff on time and not drag work after hours, since i have affinity with computers and technology, i developed systematization of the data, so, by the time the day ended, I just took my stuff and leave for home, whereas my boss stayed late (usually a couple of hours though).

One day, she "pointed" that it was kinda frown upon the fact that I was leaving "early" where other people stayed behind. and I said, "I have all my work done by the end of the day, if I´m not finished, I would stay, and many of the people that are working late it is not a sign of working hard, but rather that they are inefficient". She didn't say a thing that moment but I got her thinking, everything she asked me to do or have, I really had the stuff done, for example, the reports, the presentations, etc., she seemed to look for more job for me to do, but I still finished faster than her, and soon she started to leave just an hour after the office closed, and that was understandable, because that extra hour she stayed was to prepare things for the next day (with no pressure) or waiting for her husband that worked in the same building.

What it is really important is to synchronize the minds into productivity, there is a lot of talk about teamwork, but you have to improve yourself if you want a vacation, and slowly move your peers to the same, of course this is part of managerial job, since an employee can do very little on his/her own. I you do a little job and want to take a vacation, your peers may not feel the pressure when covering you, but if it is really little, then it is really necessary?.

Of course, there is also the fact that you "deserve vacation", I mean, dragging long work hours means that you need rest, but it doesn't mean you need vacation (or paid holiday). The managerial staff should use their leadership towards increasing productivity by doing the same work in the time allotted to do so, since they don't want to paid for overtime. Overtime should be something extraordinary, not the common rule. Once the company starts working more efficiently, then the people starts thinking in their paid vacation, since they earn it by all the effort put in their work, the feeling it different when you really have time with your family, but then again, it' s a cultural thing and in this time not only in the workplace but also at home too...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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