Here’s All You Need to Know About the Working Hours in Japan

Japanese folks are known for being hardworking.

Photo Pixabay

Japanese people are known to be incredibly hardworking to the point that the concept of overtime is not alien to them. But when you are working in Japan, it is still best to know the legal limits. How many hours is considered typical working hours? What is considered overtime? In this article, we try to explain the general labor hour standards in Japan.

The first thing you should know is that the maximum working hours are stipulated by law. The maximum legal working hours should be eight hours a day, and 40 hours a week. Also, did you know that the regular rest period is at least 45 minutes? That is only applicable if the working hours per day exceed six hours. However, if the working hours exceed eight hours, then they can spend their rest period for at least 60 minutes. Take note that some companies include a mandatory rest period within the eight hours while some do not. For example, some companies indicate in the contract that the working hours is nine hours, but since this includes the rest period of an hour, the working hours are technically considered eight. Some companies, however, indicate seven in the contract, but that does not include the rest period. Make sure to read your contract carefully to know what to expect regarding your working hours.

What about days off? Isn’t it normal to have weekends off? In most offices in Japan, Saturdays and Sundays are usually the off days. But the legal minimum is at least one rest day (also called
kyuujitsu or legal holiday) per week, or at least four days over the course of four weeks. This is also a mandatory stipulation in the work contract that you should take note of. Depending on the company, some companies get rotating shifts—meaning they might get Tuesdays and Saturdays off for this week, but on the following week, they will have Wednesdays and Fridays off.

If you fall under a dispatching agency, remember that the agency has the responsibility for making decisions regarding the working conditions (hours, holidays, etc.). But the company that receives the agency’s service (people) would be the ones responsible for following guidelines and rules that are implemented beforehand.

Finally, the famous overtime work in Japan can be broken down as follows:

Pay Increase for Overtime Work
= 25% (in addition to the basic hourly wage) 
Pay Increase for Working on Legal Holidays = 35% (in addition to the basic hourly wage) 
Pay Increase for Working on Late Nights (Night differential is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day) = 25% (in addition to the basic hourly wage) In the case that you are working overtime plus during the indicated night differential, you simply add both rates of 25% + 25%, making the increase 50% in addition to the basic hourly wage. 


PRO-TIP: If you are paid monthly, here is how you calculate your hourly wage.

While the calculation of working hours largely depends on the company, the basic rules of overtime apply to all employees regardless of the type of employment. The company will also put the overtime and salary breakdown on your monthly payslip.

Take note that this is simply the legal minimum. Different companies offer different kinds of incentives and benefits in addition to salary (drinking parties, anyone?). Nevertheless, it is always better to be prepared and know these basic knowledge when starting a new job, especially in a foreign country.

 (8 July 2019)

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