Japan’s New Guidance on Working Time

As part of the Japanese government’s continuing attempt to address Japan’s long working hours culture, new Guidelines on managing employee working hours have come into effect.

The Guidelines build on existing working time regulations by strengthening definitions and clarifying what is required.

‘Working time’ is clarified as time worked under the employer’s direction, whether that direction is express or implied.

‘Working time’ will (if done under the employer’s direction) include:

  • Time spent waiting to start work;
  • Time spent preparing the workplace;
  • Time spent changing in and out of work clothes;
  • Time spent training for work related skills;
  • Time spent on work related study programmes.

Where the employee is permitted to ‘self-report’ their working hours, the new Guidelines place a greater obligation on the employer than before to check that the employee is not under reporting their working time, particularly if there appears to be a significant discrepancy between the employee’s self-reporting and any objective method used for recording working time.

Employers are obliged to investigate what is happening and take steps to prevent it.

International companies with Japanese offices should take care to get to know and apply the new Guidelines.