Author: Yukadon

What are working hours in Japan?

When working in a Japanese company, you may wonder about labor time. What are regular working hours in Japan? Therefore, this time, I will describe about various working hours systems, overtime hours, and working hours by job type.

Comparison of working hours system

The main types of working hours systems in Japan are the following three types.
Fixed time system (固定時間制度, kotei jikan seido)
Flexible time system (フレックスタイム制度, furekkusu taimu seido)
Discretionary labor system (裁量労働制度, sairyō rōdō seido)

What is fixed time system?

The fixed time system is a common way of working in Japan. It’s a way to work such as from 8 am to 5 pm (including an hour break) or from 9 am to 6 pm (including an hour break), 8 hours a day, and 5 days a week (Monday – Friday). In this way, the working hours of 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week are called “statutory working hours”.

What is flexible time system?

This system allows workers to freely decide start and end times within the range of agreed working hours (i.e., still keeping an average 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week). However, depending on the company, a core time is set where all employees must be at work. The purpose of setting the core time is to secure time to work jointly and to have meetings etc. By deciding your starting and closing times around the core time, it will be easier to fit in work according to your lifestyle.

What is discretionary labor system?

This is a free time system that considers the amount of work done specified by the agreement between workers and employers, regardless of the actual working hours. There are two types of discretionary labor system, one is a discretionary labor system for professional work, and the other is a discretionary labor system for management-related work.

・ Discretionary labor system for professional work
Due to the nature of the work, it is up to the worker’s discretion how and when to proceed with the work. It is suitable for work which is difficult to give specific instructions on time allocation, for example, research and development, interview/editing, designer, lawyer and so on.

・ Discretionary labor system for management-related work
It is applied mainly to enterprises doing business such as planning, for example, people who do not directly participate in production on-site, who work in a management/clerical work standpoint.

Benefits of Discretionary labor system

Control the work yourself without being bound by time
Proceed with steps and arrangements that you think is the best

Disadvantage of discretionary labor system

Work that must be done on weekends or holidays is paid at the same rate
You must finish the work promised regardless of actual time worked, which could lead to excessive overtime hours

Average overtime hours of Japanese companies

As a result of various questionnaires on overtime hours, the majority of workers answered that overtime hours are over 30 hours a month. In other words, it can be thought that it is about 1 – 2 hours as overtime per day.
However, there are surprising cases where overtime hours are over 100 hours a month, or more than 13 hours a day. Excessive overtime continues to be covered in the media, exposing instances of death from overwork (過労死, karōshi) and “black companies.” More and more, companies are making efforts to reduce average overtime hours.

Payment method of overtime payment

Laborers also need to know the calculation method of overtime payment correctly. Overtime payment will be paid for overtime work carried out beyond the working hours prescribed by the Labor Standards Act (in principle, 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week). The calculation method is as follows.

Number of hours overtime (hour) × wage per hour (yen) × 1.25

Working hours system based on occupation and industry

Is the working hours system adopted depending on industry and occupation different? When I looked it up, it had the following characteristics.

Flexible time system

Many designers, design works and IT companies adopt the flex-time system.

Discretionary labor system

Many editorial work of the media, lawyers, and new product development work adopt the discretionary labor system.


As I introduced, the working hours system varies greatly depending on the work content. In addition, it is one way to find out what kind of style is suitable for your personality, and to take an occupation that incorporates that system. Just to understand that there are alternative options besides the way of living “to work for a fixed amount of time in a fixed location” will extend your options for working in Japan.

By Yukadon

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