Japanese labor-related laws and regulations that all expats should know

This is a simple explanation of the basic information that foreigners who are going to work or are working in Japan need to know.

When working in Japan, the Labor Standards Law and other related laws and regulations and the Guidelines for Employment and Working Conditions of Foreign Workers require employers to make efforts in the following areas.

Prohibition of discriminatory treatment on the basis of nationality

Discriminatory treatment on the basis of nationality is also prohibited. (Article 3 of the Labor Standards Law)

Clear indication of working conditions

When concluding a labor contract, employers must clearly indicate wages, working hours, etc. to workers. In particular, matters related to wages must be clearly stated in writing. (Article 15 of the Labor Standards Law)
When finding a job, it is recommended to confirm the main working conditions such as wages, working hours, etc., by means of a written document (written notice of working conditions) that clarifies the details.

Prohibition of forced labor and intermediate exploitation

Employers shall not force workers to work against their will by means of assault or threats, nor shall they profit from intervening in the employment of others, except in cases permitted under the law. (Article 5, Article 6 of the Labor Standards Law)
Prohibit contracts that schedule penalties, damages, etc. for non-performance of labor contracts.
It is prohibited to make contracts that provide for penalties or schedule the amount of damages for non-performance of the labor contract by the worker, such as resignation before the expiration of the contract period. This means that they cannot withhold your wages if you quit or fine you for calling in sick! (Article 16 of the Labor Standards Law)

Restriction on dismissal of workers undergoing medical treatment following an industrial accident

Dismissal is prohibited during the period of absence from work for medical treatment due to work-related injury or illness, and for 30 days thereafter. (Article 19 of the Labor Standards Law)

Dismissal notice

In principle, 30 days or more advance notice is required when dismissing a worker, and if 30 days or more advance notice is not given, the average wage (dismissal notice allowance) for the number of days short of 30 days must be paid. However, this does not apply to cases where the continuation of the business becomes impossible due to unavoidable reasons such as natural disasters, or where the dismissal is due to reasons attributable to the worker. (Article 20, Article 21 of the Labor Standards Law)

Payment of Wages

Wages must be paid directly to the worker in full, in currency, at least once a month, and on a fixed date. (Article 24 of the Labor Standards Law) However, statutory deductions such as taxes and unemployment insurance premiums and agreed deductions such as union dues are exceptions to full payment.
In addition, when a worker resigns, unpaid wages, etc. must be paid within 7 days of the request by the employee (you do not need to wait until the following month!) (Article 23 of the Labor Standards Law)

Minimum Wage

Employers are required to pay workers at least the minimum wage. (Minimum Wage Law) There are two types of minimum wages: regional minimum wages and industry-specific minimum wages. This changes regularly so check what the minimum wage is in your area.

Working hours and holidays

The legal working hours are 8 hours per day (plus 1 hour unpaid break) and 40 hours per week (44 hours for workplaces of certain sizes and industries) (Articles 32, 40, and 131 of the Labor Standards Law). Statutory holidays are defined as at least one day per week or four days per month – that means they can legally make you work 6 days a week but in many cases that’s a bad job so try and change your situation if you can. They also must provide 10+ days off per year, but 5 of them can be assigned by the company. (Article 35 of the Labor Standards Law).

Extra pay for overtime, holidays and late night work

In order to extend legally mandated working hours and work on legally mandated holidays, certain procedures stipulated by law are required. (Article 36 of the Labor Standards Law)
For work in excess of the statutory working hours, premium wages are to be paid at a rate of 25% or more of the wages for normal working hours or working days, and for work on statutory holidays, premium wages calculated at a rate of 35% or more. There is no legal right to public holidays unless it is in your contract.
Furthermore, for work performed late at night (between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.), premium wages calculated at a rate of 25% or more must be paid. (Article 37 of the Labor Standards Law)

Annual Paid Leave

Workers who have worked continuously for six months and have attended at least 80% of all working days are entitled to annual paid leave. (Article 39 of the Labor Standards Law) For full time this is 10 days in the first year, going up by 1 day per year. The company CAN allocate 5 of these days on dates they choose.

Return of money and goods

Foreigners residing in Japan are required to carry their passport or alien registration card with them at all times. (Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, Article 23) Do not leave your passport at other places.
In addition, when a worker resigns, he/she must return the money and goods that belong to his/her company within 7 days of the request. (Article 23, Labor Standards Law)

Safety and Health

In order to ensure the safety and health of workers, the Industrial Safety and Health Law stipulates that the prevention of danger or health hazards to workers, safety and health education (education at the time of hiring, etc.), and health examinations be conducted. (Industrial Safety and Health Law)

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