Minimum Working Conditions
An employer who regularly employs 10 or more employees per workplace is required to prepare the work rules in accordance with the Labour Standards Act. The work rules must contain pertinent details relating directly and significantly to the working conditions. The employer’s work rules are to be submitted to the competent Labour Standards Inspection Office. An employment contract stipulating any working conditions that fail to meet the standards established by the work rules will be deemed invalid, and the conventional directives will supplant the nullified elements of the agreement. An employer may not change the work rules in any way that would disadvantage its employees, without obtaining the employees’ prior consent, unless such modifications to the work rules is considered reasonable.
The term ‘wages’ refers to any kind of payment made from an employer to its employees as remuneration for their work (e.g. wage, salary, allowance and bonus). Wages must be paid in full directly to the employee and in the appropriately designated currency. An employee’s wages, other than extraordinary wages and bonuses, are paid periodically (at least once a month on a specifically designated date).
In addition to the normal wage, work performed on statutory holidays and late-night work (between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.) requires an extra allowance; the statutory holiday allowance must be at least 35% of the normal hourly wage, while the late-night work allowance must be at least 25% of the normal hourly wage.
Maximum Working Week
Generally, the statutory working hours are 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. Statutory holidays must be granted once every week or four times every four weeks. Flexible working hours arrangements are permissible, subject to certain requirements and if prescribed in the work rules or labour-management agreements.
Compensation for overtime work of up to 60 hours per month, must be at least 25% of the normal hourly wage and overtime work that exceeds 60 hours per month, must be at least 50% of the normal hourly wage. Employees in managerial and supervisory positions are exempt from the abovementioned overtime regulations; however, the late-night work allowance is still applicable.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
Employers have an obligation to take necessary care to ensure the physical and mental health and safety of its employees in the workplace, as well as to facilitate the establishment of a comfortable working environment, by promoting comprehensive and systematic countermeasures concerning the prevention of industrial accidents, implementing measures for the establishment of standards for hazard prevention, clarifying the safety and health management responsibility, and the promotion of voluntary activities with a view to averting industrial accidents.
The employer is also required to appoint a General Safety and Health Manager, who is ultimately responsible for such matters, and should assign officers to support the Health Manager accordingly, e.g. an industrial doctor, a safety and health committee (if there are 50 or more regular employees) and an operation chief (if the employees engage in work requiring prevention-control measures for industrial accidents).
No specific administrative complaint procedures are provided for under Japanese law with regard to health and safety in the workplace. Nonetheless, the Labour Standards Inspection Offices accept complaints concerning health and safety in the workplace. However, in practice, they will not proceed to the enforcement stage unless they identify an infringement.
Under Japanese law, an employer is required to protect the privacy of a consulter and harasser in cases involving harassment in the workplace. An employer is further prohibited from the dismissal or mistreatment of employees, who make a consultation or cooperate with an investigation concerning harassment.