These Are the Different Types of Paid Leaves Offered by Japanese Companies

They fall under two categories-mandatory and non-mandatory leaves.

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If you’re set on working in Japan, it is important to know the different types of paid leave offered by Japanese companies to its employees. Not only will this help you manage your schedules better, but it will also give you the chance to plan your vacation ahead.


Below are the most common types of paid leave every worker in a Japanese company is entitled to:


1. Mandatory Leaves


Paid Leave
(有給休暇 read as yukyu kyuka or commonly shortened as 有給 yukyu)


Any full-time worker is allowed to take paid leaves to take a break from their daily grind as long as they satisfy two conditions. First, he or she must have worked in the company for more than six months already. Second, he or she should have gone to work for more than 80% of the total working days. Unfortunately, most Japanese companies don’t provide sick leaves. This is the reason why workers who want to take the day off due to sickness can only use the paid leave. 

The number of days from the employment date 

The number of paid leave days

0.5 year

10 working days

1.5 years

11 working days

2.5 years

12 working days

3.5 years

14 working days

4.5 years

16 working days

5.5 years

18 working days

6.5 years or more

20 working days


Paid leaves don’t only apply to full-time workers. Even part-time workers are entitled to take paid leaves, although for a lesser number of days. 

Fixed working days per week

(unit: day)

Fixed annual working days

(unit: day)

Continuous service terms counting from the employment day (unit: year)

0.5

1.5

2.5

3.5

4.5

5.5

6.5 or more

4

169-216

7

8

9

10

12

13

15

3

121-168

5

6

6

8

9

10

11

2

73-120

3

4

4

5

6

6

7

1

48-72

1

2

2

2

3

3

3


On the other hand, probationary workers are not commonly provided with paid leaves. 


Maternity leave
(産前休業 read as sanzen kyugyo, 産後休業 sango kyugyo, commonly shortened as 産休 sankyu


Every mother can take maternity leave. She can take a leave six weeks (if she’s expecting twins or more, 14 weeks) before the expected delivery date. After giving birth, she must also take an additional leave for eight weeks. However, if the doctor acknowledges a mother’s request for a shorter leave, she may start working after six weeks.


*Whether you get paid or not, or how much percentage you get, will depend on each company.


Childcare leave
(育児休業 ikuji kyugyo, commonly shortened as 育休 ikukyu)


Both male and female workers can take childcare leave. But, they must satisfy the following conditions:


The father or mother must have worked in the company for more than one year, with a fixed working schedule of more than two days per week. He or she should also still be working for the company after his/her child’s first birthday.


Both of them can take this leave until their child turns one year old.


*Whether you get paid or not, or how much percentage you get, will depend on each company.


As revised on October 1, 2017:

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If parents can’t find a daycare or nursery for their child, who has turned 1 year and six months old, they can apply for this leave again and use it until the child turns two years old.


If a child, who hasn’t reached elementary school, needs to go to a hospital due to sickness, a health check-up, or vaccination, a parent can take up to five days leave, starting from a half-day leave. If the parent has two or more kids, he or she can take up to 10 days. 


“Papa Kyuka”


A father is entitled to take leave twice if he takes his first leave within eight weeks after childbirth. 


“Papa Mama Ikukyu Plus”


When both parents take this leave, each of them can take a one year leave until the child turns 1 year and two months old.


Apart from these, parents may also opt to request for shorter working schedules instead of taking a leave. 


Family care leave
(介護休業 kaigo kyugyo)


Both male and female workers can take a family care leave, given that he or she satisfies the following conditions:


He or she must have worked in the company for more than one year.


He or she must have a working schedule of more than two days per week.


This type of leave is offered to workers who have family members that have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities that require constant nursing care for two weeks or more. It is applicable for the spouse (even under a common-law marriage), parents, children (even adopted children), the spouse’s parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren.


The worker can divide their leaves up to three times (93 days in total) per year for every person in need of long-term care. Meanwhile, the worker may also opt to request for shorter working schedules instead of taking a leave.


*Whether you get paid or not, or how much percentage you get, will depend on each company.


Nursing leave
(介護休暇 kaigo kyuka)


Both male and female workers are entitled to a nursing leave. But, he or she must satisfy the following conditions:


He or she must have worked in the company for more than six months.


He or she must have more than four working hours per day.


This type of leave is offered to workers who have family members that require assistance in going to the hospital, applying for nursing care services, etc. Compared to the family care leave, the nursing leave is used for lighter care. It is applicable for the spouse (even under a common-law marriage), parents, children (even adopted children), the spouse’s parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren.

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The worker can take leaves up to five days per year for one person in need of nursing care. If he or she is taking care of two or more people, he/she can take leaves up to 10 days per year. The bare minimum of using this leave is a half-day leave.


The worker may also opt to request for shorter working schedules instead of taking a leave.


*Whether you get paid or not, or how much percentage you get, will depend on each company.


Menstrual leave
(生理休暇 seiri kyuka)


If a female worker is finding it hard to work because of her heavy period, she can request to take a menstrual leave. There is no specified limit for the number of days (or even hours) a woman can use in taking this leave.


*Whether you get paid or not, or how much percentage you get, will depend on each company.


2. Non-Mandatory Leaves


In contrast, non-mandatory leaves are non-obligatory holidays that are also offered to workers in Japanese companies. Take note, though, that the rules may vary for each company. Sometimes, these holidays are counted as paid leaves. But usually, most companies have at least two of these leaves. 


Mourning leave
(忌引 kibiki)


The mourning leave can be used by workers who recently had a family member that passed away. But, those who are entitled to this leave may vary for each company. 


Marriage leave
(結婚 kekkon)


The marriage leave can be used by workers who are getting married. This type of leave is not as popular as the others, but more companies are starting to offer this now. 


Refresh leave
(リフレッシュ)


The refresh leave is given to workers who have continuously worked in the same company for a certain amount of period such as 10 years, 15 years, and so on. 


Anniversary leave
(アニバーサリー)


A worker can choose any one day within the year to become his/her anniversary leave. Typically, employees use this leave for birthdays or wedding anniversaries. 


Volunteer leave
(ボランティア)


The volunteer leave was created after the Great East Japan earthquake last March 11, 2011. A company usually assigns a certain number of people to participate in volunteer activities. These assigned employees handle the volunteer program, transportation, and accommodation.  


Education and Training leave
(教育訓練 kyoiku kunren)


The education and training leave is offered to workers who want to improve their skills and knowledge by pursuing further studies in a school or attending a seminar outside the company. There are also times when the company asks an employee to join workshops or conferences that would be helpful for the organization.  

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Citizen-Judge leave
(裁判員 saibanin)


An employee who was chosen to be one of the jury members for a case in court may use this leave when they need to attend an orientation or trial. This type of leave began in 2009 as part of the citizen-judge system. 


All the information provided above is based on the
Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare website


Helpful tips when taking a leave:


In a Japanese company, a manager takes responsibility and has control over an employee’s workload and schedule. Take note that there are some things that you have to consider when taking a leave:


If you’re planning on using your leave for vacation, make sure to ask permission from your immediate supervisor two or three months prior. This will also give your colleagues time to adjust to the possible tasks and workload you’ll be leaving them when you’re away. It’s better if you set up private meetings with them so you can delegate and iron everything out before you leave.


If you’re using your leave for an emergency or sickness, the earlier you tell your manager, the better. It’s best if you either call or email your supervisor.


It is every worker’s responsibility to understand the different types of leaves. Make it a point to read the employment contract and office regulations carefully to avoid inconveniencing your employer and yourself. If you have questions we advise that you direct them to your company’s HR department. 


 (14 May 2019)

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