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Japan Leave Laws & Holidays

Paid Time Off (PTO): Vacation, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Family Care Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty, Voting Leave, and Marriage Leave

Table Of Contents

Vacation Leave in Japan

Last updated on December 26, 2023.

Eligibility

6 months of service and 80% attendance

In Japan, both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid vacation.

Two conditions for claiming vacation leave are:

  • An employee must have at least 6 continuous months of service with the same company.
  • Must have at least 80% attendance of the total number of workdays.

For employees whose attendance is below 80% of the total workdays, the employer is not obligated to provide vacation leave in the subsequent year.

The length of service in the company determines the number of days an employee receives.

Vacation or annual leave is called “yūkyū” (有休 ゆうきゅう) in Japanese.

Unlike larger economic powers like the US, Canada, and India, where leave policies vary by state or region, Japan has nationwide uniform leave laws.

Vacation Quota for Full-Time Employees

10 to 20 days

Full-time employees receive 10 to 20 vacation days based on the number of years of service.

After the first 6 months (and 80% attendance), employees are eligible for 10 days of vacation. After 1.5 years of service, an employee gets 1 additional vacation day per year. After more than 2.5 years of service, an employee gets 2 additional vacation days each year. This goes up to a maximum of 20 vacation days annually for employees with more than 6.5 years of service.

Therefore, the definite number of vacation days increases proportionally with the years of service and is as follows:

Continuous Years of Service Continuous Years of Service
0.5 (6 months) 10
1.5 (A year and a half = 18 months) 11
2.5 12
3.5 14
4.5 16
5.5 18
6.5 and more 20

All this is the legal minimum; many companies offer more generous vacation leave.

Vacation Quota for Part-Time Employees

Based on the number of work days and years of service, it ranges from 1 to 15 days.

Part-time employees with fewer days or shorter hours per week qualify for vacation leave proportional to their scheduled work time. The length of service also affects the number of available vacation days; similar to full-time employees.

Part-time employees who work:

1 day per week, get 1 to 3 vacation days;

2 days per week, get 3 to 7 vacation days;

3 days per week, get 5 to 11 vacation days;

4 days per week, get 7 to 15 vacation days.

Best Practices When Applying for and Using Vacation

Each company has its own set of rules; vacation requests may be denied.

Employees must inform their HR team or employer when applying for vacation. The application process varies across companies and may involve contacting a manager and/or HR department via phone, email, or message. However, an automated leave management system is the easiest and most efficient way to manage an employee’s days off. Implementing a reliable system for managing employee leave not only simplifies the process for HR managers but also encourages employees to take vacation.

Companies usually have varying policies on how early you should submit a leave notice. A good rule of thumb is to do it as soon as possible. This ensures that coworkers have enough time to prepare for covering the absence.

Employers generally approve vacation requests but may adjust the timing if granting leave during the requested period would disrupt normal business operations, such as during worker shortages or high seasons. In such cases, employers have the right to reschedule the leave to a more suitable time without hindering the enterprise’s normal function.

It’s advisable to include the remaining vacation leave balance in the pay slip to keep employees informed about how many vacation days are left.

Vacations can be taken either consecutively or in divided periods. Employees may be allowed to use up to 5 days of their vacation in hourly increments if specified in a labor-management agreement.

Carry Over

Carryover is allowed up to 2 years.

Unused vacation days can be carried over to the next year, but this entitlement expires after 2 years. This means the remaining days from one year can only be carried forward to the following year. For example, a worker is entitled to 12 vacation days in 2023 but decides to use only some of them in that year, say 3 days. This worker can transfer these 3 unused days to 2024 and add them to their regular 12 days, having 15 days in total for 2024. But, the 3 days from 2023 may not be carried over to 2025 or later.

Nevertheless, certain firms set the expiration date of carried-over-days after only one year.

Work-Life Balance in Japan

Employers must ensure that employees take at least 5 vacation days per year.

A survey by the Japanese government in 2019 revealed that employees in Japan take only 52,4% of the vacation days that they are entitled to. They often don’t take their vacation days because of a culture that glorifies overworking.

Even with this fact, workers in Japan seem to be satisfied with their vacation time. The annual report about vacation deprivation from 2023 found that Japanese employees are not complaining about their time for rest. This study explores vacation deprivation, which happens when employees spend too much time working and don’t have enough rest time. Namely, Japanese employees have the best ratio; only 43% of employees feel vacation deprived. A strong work ethic makes Japanese workers see overwork as a positive thing.

The Japanese government has taken steps to deal with this problem. From 2019, employers are required to ensure that workers with ten or more vacation days take at least five days per year. Employers who fail to apply this measure face penalties.

Payout

Employees receive their standard wages during vacation.

During vacation leave, employees are entitled to their average wage or regular wages for the usual fixed working hours.

Vacation days can’t be cashed out. This rule ensures that employees take their allotted time for rest.

Any unused vacation days must be paid to the employees in cash if employment is terminated.

Sick Leave in Japan

There is no sick leave in Japan.

Employers are not obligated to offer employees any paid or unpaid sick days.

Japanese labor laws don’t recognize any sick leave as such, unlike other developed nations such as the UK or Germany, whose national policies provide long-paid sick leave. Instead, Japanese employees must use their paid vacation days for the purpose of illness. For this reason, some employees choose not to use all of their vacation entitlement; they save in case they get sick. After using all of their days of annual leave, employees have no other option but to take unpaid sick leave.

Therefore, paid sick leave is at the employer’s discretion. This means that at some Japanese organizations, there won’t be this privilege at all. Still, a growing number of companies (especially international) will offer some paid sick days. This is usually 3-5 paid sick days, although some companies with generous sick leave policies go up to 10 days. However, workers are entitled to have paid sick leave in case of work-related illness or injury, in which case an employer pays 60% of the workers’ standard wages.

Payout

Sick leave in Japan is unpaid.

Maternity, Paternity, and Child Care Leave in Japan

Maternity Leave

14 weeks

Employers must provide 14 weeks of maternity leave, 6 weeks of prenatal leave (before the expected delivery date), and 8 weeks of postnatal leave (after the birth). In the case of multiple pregnancies, employees are entitled to up to 14 weeks before the birth.

Although employers are not obligated to pay female employees during leave, some choose to do so. On the other hand, some employees might also qualify for maternity benefits through government social security, under the national unemployment insurance scheme. The Social Security program provides 67% of the employee’s wages during the first 6 months of maternity leave and, after that, 50% for the rest of the leave. Typically, any payments made by the employer will be decreased by the benefits received from the government.

After maternity leave, the mother may take child-care leave for up to 52 weeks.

Paternity Leave

4 weeks

Employers are required to provide 4 weeks of paternity leave. Paternity leave must be taken within 8 weeks after childbirth.

However, after paternity leave, fathers can take child-care leave and extend it up to 52 weeks. This makes Japan one of the best countries with paternity leave in the world.

Paternity leave is paid for by the government (social insurance). Employees receive 67% of their regular salary during their initial paternity leave, with a daily limit of 15,190 ¥. During child-care leave, they receive 67% of the regular wage for the first 180 days, up to a monthly limit of 305,319 ¥. Afterwards, they get a 50% salary, with a monthly limit of 227,850 ¥.

If an employee wishes to work while on paternity leave, he can do so under mutually agreed-upon working conditions.

Child Care Leave (Parental Leave)

Up to 52 weeks

Employees with a newborn child are entitled to up to 52 weeks (1 year) of partially paid child-care leave. In other words, this leave is available until the child’s first birthday. Both the mother and father can take this leave.

Social Security pays it at the rate of 67% of the employee’s regular wages.

Payout

Maternity, paternity, and child care leave are partially paid by the government.

Family Care Leave in Japan

5 days per year for short-term leave; up to 93 days for long-term leave.

Short-term leave: an employee is entitled to 5 unpaid days per year to provide care for sick or injured close family members.

Long-term leave: an employee is entitled to take up to 93 unpaid days in case a close family member needs constant nursing care due to sickness, disability, or injury.

Payout

Family care leave in Japan is unpaid.

Bereavement Leave in Japan

3–5 days

An employer must provide bereavement leave (called “condolence leave” – kibiki kyuka (忌引休暇) in Japanese) to their full-time employees. However, employers are not required to provide this leave to employees working part-time or on a short-term contract.

The duration of bereavement leave depends on the employee’s relationship with the deceased:

  • 5 days: parent, child, or spouse.
  • 3 days: sibling, grandparent, or grandchild.
  • 2 days: all other third degree relatives (a cousin, an uncle, an aunt).

If an employee is in charge of organizing the funeral arrangements, they will be granted an additional 2 days. An employer is not required to provide bereavement leave for the death of anyone who is not a family member.

Jury Duty Leave in Japan

Required by law.

Employers are required by law to allow their employees to fulfill their civic duties, such as jury duty service or appearing in court. Depending on the circumstances, this leave may be partial or for an entire day(s).

Military Leave in Japan

Military leave is not specified by Japanese law.

Voting Leave in Japan

Required by law.

Employers must give their employees appropriate time off to exercise their civil rights, such as voting or performing other civic responsibilities. This leave may last a full day(s) or only a few hours.

Marriage Leave in Japan

5 days

Employers must provide their employees 5 days of paid leave for their wedding and honeymoon when they get married.

Public Holidays in Japan

16 public holidays

There are 16 official public holidays in Japan. Most companies will provide their employees with days off for these holidays. There are some exceptions, though, for example, employees in the tourism industry. Days off for holidays are in addition to regular vacation days.

Employers are not legally required to pay their employees during these holidays, but even so, the vast majority do.

During 2024, we will have more prolonged weekends (3 days) than we have usually.

A complete list of official holidays celebrated in Japan in 2024:
Date Holiday
January 1 New Year’s Day (元日, Ganjitsu)
January 8 (2nd Monday in January) Coming of Age Day (成人の日, Seijin no Hi)
February 11 (Observed on February 12 in 2024) Foundation Day (建国記念の日, Kenkoku Kinen no Hi)
February 23 Emperor’s Birthday (天皇誕生日, Tennō Tanjōbi)
March 20 (date varies) Vernal Equinox Day (春分の日, Shunbun no Hi)
April 29 Showa Day (昭和の日, Shōwa no Hi)
May 3 Constitution Memorial Day (憲法記念日, Kenpō Kinenbi)
May 4 Greenery Day (みどりの日, Midori no Hi)
May 5 (Observed on May 6 in 2024) Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi)
July 15 (3rd Monday in July) Marine Day (海の日, Umi no Hi)
August 11 (Observed on August 12in 2024) Mountain Day (山の日, Yama no Hi)
September 16 (3rd Monday of September) Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日, Keirō no Hi)
Observed on September 23 (date varies) Autumnal Equinox (秋分の日, Shūbun no Hi)
October 14 (2nd Monday of October) Health and Sports Day (スポーツの日, Supōtsu no Hi)
November 3 (Observed on November 4 in 2024) Culture Day (文化の日, Bunka no Hi)
November 23 Labor Thanksgiving Day (勤労感謝の日, Kinrō Kansha no Hi)

* Holidays that fall on a Sunday are celebrated on Monday.

Sources

  1. Official Labour Laws of Japan (The Labour Standards Law) from Ministry of Labour, https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/27776/64846/E95JPN01.htm
  2. Japan: Local Laws & Regulations, https://www.atlashxm.com/en/countries/japan
  3. Payroll and Benefits Guide Japan, https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/japan/
  4. Taking Bereavement Leave in Japan, https://savvytokyo.com/taking-bereavement-leave-as-a-foreign-worker-in-japan/
  5. Japan Employee Benefits, https://japanconsult.com/japan-employee-benefits/

Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.

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