Working Conditions in Japan
Back in the old days, employees in most huge companies worked a modified 5 days a week and 2 Saturdays in a month, while those employed in small companies worked as much as 6 days in a week.
In light of rising international criticism of excessive working hours I the country, public companies started closing the 2 Saturdays a month workday in 1989.
Also, labor unions made sure that reducing work hours will be a significant part of their demands, and many large companies fortunately responded positively. And as such, Japanese working hours have been slowly reduced.
Although the average working hours in Japan have been reduced to 2,097 hours in 1986, it is still way longer than the 1,828 hours in the United States and the 1,072 hours in France.
In 1995, the average working hours in the country had reduced to 1,884 hours, until it had decreased again to 1,884 hours in 2009. The average Japanese employees are entitled to 15 days of paid holidays each year but most of them usually take only at least 7 days.
Subsequently, dispatch “haken” contracts have been rapidly becoming more popular among huge companies. Along with the decreasing number of the Japanese workforce, the average work hours in a week has increased in many medium to large sized companies.
In Tokyo, it has been very common for many employees to work twelve or more hours in several industries until present despite their existing employment contracts indicating an 8-hour work hours. In many companies, there is a written-in overtime allowance per month in the employment contract between the employer and employee. Most often, the first 20 to 40 hours of overtime are considered “service overtime”, therefore it often comes unpaid.