Japan Today
Image: Pakutaso

Which jobs in Japan have the most and least overtime? Survey investigates

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

They say the only certain things in life are death and taxes, but if you’re working in Japan, you can probably add a third thing to that list: overtime. For many jobs in Japan, it’s not a question of if you’ll have to work overtime, but how much.

To try to form an answer, Japanese employment website Doda surveyed 15,000 people working in 90 different job categories on who was doing the most and least overtime. The surveys were conducted between April and June of last year, coinciding with the first quarter of the business year at most Japanese companies.

The respondents, who ranged in age from 20 to 59, worked an average of 20.8 hours of overtime per month. While that averages out to just an hour a day (assuming a 20-day work month), one in five respondents (20.1 percent) said they did more than 40 hours of overtime, which would translate out to a full extra week of work for a 9-to-5 job. At the very top end, 5.5 percent of the participants were putting in 60 hours or more of overtime a month.

So if you’re looking to minimize your overtime, what are the best jobs? According to the data, the positions where respondents worked the least amount of overtime per month were:

1 (tie). Secretary/receptionist: 10.5 hours

1 (tie). Medical office assistant: 10.5 hours

  1. Sales office assistant: 11.1 hours

  2. Financial industry agency sales: 11.4 hours

  3. General office assistant: 11.8 hours

You’ll notice the word “assistant” on that list multiple times, and in fact, out of the 10 jobs with the least overtime, seven of them were assistant positions. Other honorable mentions on the low-overtime list were translator (14.4 hours) and cook/waitstaff, which tied at number 13, and cosmetologists (16.1 hours), including hairdressers and masseuses, at number 17.

Over on the other end of the rankings, the positions where people worked the most overtime were:

  1. Off-site construction management: 38.3 hours

  2. Publishing/advertising/web/video producer/director/planner: 32.5 hours

  3. On-site construction management: 31.8 hours

  4. Architectural design: 29.8 hours

  5. Employment/staffing coordination: 29.2 hours

▼ If your job requires you to wear so many hats that it’s classified as producer/director/planner, then you’re probably working some very late nights.

Image: Pakutaso

In contrast to the low-overtime assistant positions, moving up to manager-class meant longer hours for the survey participants, as did working in creative and business-to-business fields. IT consultant (26.1 hours) and video game creator (25.8 hours) were also among the high-overtime jobs, coming in at numbers 16 and 17 on the most-overtime list.

Broken up into age groups, younger people worked less overtime than older participants, with overtime peaking in people’s 40s. This is likely a reflection of managers, who tend to be older, working more overtime than new hires.

Average overtime worked per month:

● Age 20-29: 16.8 hours

● Age 30-39: 21.7 hours

● Age 40-49: 22.2 hours

● Age 50-59: 20.8 hours

The larger number of male than female managers in Japanese workplaces may also have been a contributing factor to male survey participants working considerably more overtime than female respondents.

Average overtime worked per month:

● Men age 20-29: 18.4 hours

● Women age 20-29: 15.1 hours

● Men age 30-39: 24.3 hours

● Women age 30-39: 15.4 hours

● Men age 40-49: 24.7 hours

● Women age 40-49: 16 hours

● Men age 50-59: 22.3 hours

● Women age 50-59: 16 hours

On the brighter side of things, almost one in four respondents (24 percent) said they worked five or fewer hours of overtime a month, and the average among the 20 jobs with the least overtime worked out to 13.5 hours a month, down 1.1 from Doda’s survey with the same questions from one year earlier. So it is possible to find jobs in Japan that don’t come with backbreaking amounts of overtime, but it’s still a good idea to try and sound out the subject during your job interview, and also to find out if you’ll be compensated for any overtime you do end up having to do.

Source: Doda via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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This is a sickness in Japanese business, it's shameful and it's needs addressing at a root and branch level. Fortunately at our company we stamped out overtime, it took literally the boss to go round to everyone's desks and tell them to turn off their PC at 7.00 every night and go home. This took months to get through to the Japanese staff that we did not consider staying late to be a positive thing, infact it was a negative that showed poor time management or incorrect task planning.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I agree with TokyoJoe.

The biggest problem I see is that the boss or the management do not stop this crazy overtime.

In my company, we always get urged to reduce overtime, but nobody follows that.

Therefore the Boss should go from desk to desk and send the people home.

Many workers think, if I go home after 8 hours my boss thinks I am a lazy worker. And I can not go home yet, because other staff also do not go home yet. If I go home early gives a bad impression of me.

But the strange point is, most of the overtime workers are not really productive during their overtime.

What they are doing in 12 hours, can also be done in 8 hours.

And all of the work they are doing in overtime, can be done tomorrow.

I remember when my boss came to me after a 8 hours working day, and said, Monty please finish this data by tonight.

And I asked him why? The due date for this data is in 2 weeks. No need to finish the data today, I am going home now.

And all my japanese team members were shocked about my answer.

And I finished the data on the next day, but the result was kept on my boss desk for another week.

So the request to finish that data during overtime was completely nonsense.

Additional many meetings are set after 5pm. After a 8 hours working day.

And all these meetings are meaningless, without any decision or conclusion made. And all these meetings can be hold during the 8 hours working day.

And many members of these late meetings are sleeping during the meetings.

For a japanese boss, someone who is present at the company for a 14 hours day and doing nothing is a hard worker.

But someone who is present at the company for just a 8 hours day and works his ass off, is a lazy worker.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

There is a huge difference between hours sat in the office and working. In Japan I have witnessed a lot of the former.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Monty, you summarized well.

As @TokyoJoe mentioned, change need to come at top level. First (Boss, Manager) should leave office on time and staff will follow the course.

From my point of view, first problem is each employee out of job fear will stay back for just not to be in bad books of Manager and second issue is salary structure in Japan which is designed such that one need to clock in more hours to meet the expenses and other requirements since base salary hardly help to survive forget about desired savings.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Frankly, I don't believe these numbers. I work in a large Japanese conglomerate, and most people work upwards of 10-15 hours of OT a week, including office/admin. The girls in HR are always there until at least 7pm, so are doing at least 2 hours OT a day on most days. By the end of the month, I'd guess on average they log at least 30 hours OT.

People in the Engineering and IT departments work far longer hours, and often come in on weekends and other holidays. Many of them have told me they work at least 80 hours OT a month.

Because of the government crackdown on excessive overtime, the company pretends to encourage people to leave early. We have a "no overtime" policy on Wednesdays, which is supposed to mean no one stays past 5:30. But there are always 4-5 people still in the office after hours. I know, because I'm often there, too.

Of course, some of this is "overtime for show" because there are only a few people (in admin or other assistant positions) who would dare leave on time. The culture in many of these old conservative companies is that if you aren't doing overtime, you aren't working hard. That's the most pervasive problem - company culture. And good luck changing that. Japan changes s l o w l y, so it's going to be a while before those numbers really start to fall.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I’ve a friend who is a video/director person who works more overtime than humanly possible but he’s on a contract so the quicker he works the more money he makes. He averages about ¥100,000,000 a year. And works three weeks a month.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Cemetries are full of 'OT heroes' who thought they were indispensable to their company.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No work life balanceu.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Globalization forces the downturn with less jobs here and less need for innovation efforts and in addition it even leads to more transportation and more other inefficient and energy intensive production which is not useful considering those necessary climate change countermeasures. The right way would be more education, innovation, reviving a national bubble economy, a copy of that in the 80’s, 90’s. It’s of no use to become the cheapest in a global competition, as Japan is still a very developed nation and there will highly probably always another cheaper place anywhere, so rivaling on a price base cannot be an option at all. Initiate a new pre- or real bubble economy and the rest follows automatically. And the heavy growth that might be contradicting climate efforts is balanced by less long distance transportation and highly innovative local technologies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Overtime work is either indicating ineffectiveness or exploitation and mismanagement, but highly probably it’s a combination of all that. Some employees excessively are used for free, others need the time for their workload and some managers can’t plan their resources and HR or simply like to torture their dependents. There is no clear answer to those problems, but of course overtime work is usual everywhere and used in peak times or unexpectedly more orders and new projects and nothing is to complain about that in principle, but of course on the other hand it’s not good if such misused.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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