It is a common practice in Japan, as well as in many other countries, to set the work rules in a company in written or as a verbal agreement. They may vary from place to place. However, the core set of principles remains the same: the rules of employment need to specify at least the working conditions, wages, and schedule. In this guide, we will take a closer look at what should and may be a part of the rules of employment in Japan.
Size of the company
If there are 10 or more regular employees in the company, the company must draw the rules of employment and submit them to the Labor Standards Inspection Office (also known as the Labour Standards Bureau). If there are less than 10 employees in the company, drawing the rules of employment is not compulsory, yet highly advised since the rules of employment have the same legal force as the labor contract.
Obligation to Inform
According to the Labor Standards Act, employers must inform their employees about the rules of employment and any other labor-related agreements. The employees must stay up-to-date with the latest changes in their working conditions and regulations. The compliance with this and many other regulations is supervised by the Labor Standard Bureau regardless of whether you have submitted the rules of employment or not. That is why it is recommended to submit your documents to the Bureau in order to get recommendations on how to bring your rules in line with the legislation and keep them up to date to avoid problems in the future.
Labor Standards Bureau
Labor Standards Bureau is the main institution that deals with the provision and protection of the appropriate working conditions of the employees. They oversee companies to ensure payments of at least minimum wages as well as the coverage of the unpaid wages. The Bureau strives for the reduction of the working hours and unpaid non-schedules working hours (overwork) and promotes the use of the work insurance and collection of the premiums it provides.
This institution has the legal right to supervise businesses, inspect the facilities to clarify the safety of the working conditions, and set the punishments for the violation of the labor-related laws (see the section below). They will also investigate any accidents and pay the compensations of insurance to the employees in case of the accident.
What the Rules of Employment Should Aim for?
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has three main priorities when it comes to the rules of employment: stability, mobility, and productivity. In order to foster these qualities in one’s working life, the policies set by the Prime Minister Abe’s Government are addressing the following issues:
- Prevention of discrimination at the workplace. For example, in between permanent and contract employees as well as between the full-time and part-time workers. The employment status should not influence or diminish one’s wages, benefits, etc.
- Restriction of the use of the fixed-term contracts. Especially the cases in which the non-permanent contracts are constantly renewed but the permanent contracts are never offered, creating an unstable and insecure environment for the workers.
- Promotion of continued employment for the elderly people who are 65 or more years of age.
What to Include in the Rules of Employment?
The minimum requirements for the rules of the employment are to include the following information:
- Schedule: the starting and the ending hours of the working days, shifts in case the work is done by teams of two or more employees, breaks, days off, leaves (for example, for childcare or family care);
- Wages: methods of determining, calculating and paying salaries (however, it does not include bonuses and other such payments), days of closing the payroll, paydays, and the information regarding the wage raise;
- Resignation and dismissal: for example, the grounds for a dismissal.
It is also good to include the following information to the rules of employment:
- Retirement allowances (pension plan),
- Bonuses, extraordinary payments, etc.,
- Availability of awards and/or disciplinary measures,
- Meal expenses or other such arrangements, etc.,
- Regulations on safety and hygiene,
- Job-related training,
- Compensations in case of a work-related accident,
- Other relevant matters.
You can see the sample of the rules of employment drafted by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) here.
What Laws Regulate the Employment Relationship?
Other laws and regulations can be found in:
- the Civil Code;
- the Labour Tribunal Dispute Resolution Law;
- the Labour Union Law;
- the Employment Measures Law;
- the Industrial Safety and Health Law;
- the Law on Special Measures to Improve Work Hours Arrangements;
- the Law on Securing Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment;
- the Law on Childcare Leave, Caregiver Leave and Other Measures for the Welfare of Workers Caring for Children or Other Family Members;
- the Law concerning the Stability of Employment of the Elderly;
- the Law concerning the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatch Undertakings and Improved Wording Conditions for Dispatched Workers;
- the Part-Time Workers Employment Improvement Law;
- the Law on the Improvement of Employment Management for Part-Time Workers, and others.
Rules of employment are to be drafted by the employer and distributed among employees at the beginning of a working relationship. It is required that all companies, large and small, draft work rules in order to remain in compliance with the government regulations outlined in the Labor Standards Law.
The rules of employment should aim to provide stable, mobile and productive work environment by setting a reasonable schedule, payment amounts and schedules and clear regulations on resignation and dismissal. It is also a good idea to elaborate more on other aspects of employment rules and submit them to the Labour Standards Bureau.
Rules of Employment FAQ
What happens if I do not submit my rules of employment to the Bureau?
If your company has less than 10 employees, you have no obligation to submit the rules of employment to the Labor Standards Bureau, although we would highly recommend doing so.
If your company has 10 or more employees and you have failed to submit the rules to the Bureau, you face a fine of not more then 300 000 yen.
In what language do I write the rules of employment?
Rules should be written in Japanese for submission to the Labor Standards Bureau. However, since you must make the rules available for your employees, you should also have them written in the language that your employees understand well. Thus, you might want to have them also written and distributed in English or another language that you and your employees are using.
I want to assign the work specifically to a man / woman. Can I do that?
Generally speaking, no. There are very few exceptions to this rule in accordance with ministry ordinances based on the Employment Measure Law and the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. Be sure to consult these laws and/or professionals in the area who understand the application of these laws before advertising or promoting certain positions and jobs as suitable to a specific gender.
I want to assign the job to people of a certain age group. Can I do that?
The rules are the same as for the gender policies. Thus, no, unless you can justify such a choice by finding the appropriate purport in the ministry ordinances based on the Employment Measure Law and the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. Be sure to consult these laws and/or professionals in the area who understand the application of these laws before advertising or promoting certain positions and jobs as suitable to a specific age category.
What are the regulations on the handling of the employees' personal information?
Employees’ personal information and its protection are regulated by the Act on the Protection of the Personal Information (APPI).
Shortly speaking, the employers can obtain and share only such information that the employee agrees to disclose, including their criminal record, provided that the data protection means are at place and comply with the requirements set by the laws. Still, in practice employer can ask to submit certain types of information with one’s CV. In such case, when the person submits a CV, it is considered that that person gave the concent to pass this information to the employer.
However, the employer cannot ask for such data as race, ethnicity, personal opinions or religious views, as well as the history of the union membership neither in a CV, nor in any other situations.