28 Jan 2021

Now that some light appears to be at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel, companies are considering how to repurpose the post Covid-19 workplace. In addition to issues on safety, other issues include how to offer flexibility between onsite and remote work; how to express the “culture” of a company beyond the physical office; and how to work collaboratively, regardless of location. Clients now want a workspace (both real and virtual) that is “future-proof.” Apart from Covid-19, several work-style reforms occurred in 2020 with more due in 2021.

By Koichi Nakatani and Peter R. Tyksinski,  Momo-o, Matsuo & Namba

Work-style Reforms in 2020:

Limit on Overtime Work (SMEs)

In April 2020, the “Overtime Limit Regulation,” was also applied to SMEs. The maximum number of overtime hours per month is 45 hours and 360 hours per year. In addition, a penalty is applied if the monthly average of 100 hours and the monthly average of 80 hours (including holiday work) exceeds 720 hours per year.

Equal Wages for Equal Work

The Law Concerning Improvement of Employment Management for Part-Time Workers and Fixed-Term Workers (the Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Law) enforced the Equal Wage for Equal Work for Large Enterprises law in April 2020. The main objectives for doing so is to eliminate unreasonable discrimination, to strengthen the employer’s duty to explain a worker’s treatment, to provide administrative advice and guidance to employers and to carry out extra-judicial dispute resolution procedures.

Amended Labor Policy Comprehensive Promotion Law

The revised Act on Comprehensive Promotion of Labor Policy, commonly known as the Power Harassment Prevention Act, was introduced to cover large enterprises in June 2020 and SMEs in April 2022. Under the revised law, employers are required to take measures necessary to prevent power harassment.

Major Laws and Regulations to be Implemented in 2021:

Revised Child Care and Nursing Leave Law

From January 2021, workers who take care of children and other family members will be able to take child- and family-care leave on an hourly basis. Prior to this change, employees who worked less than four hours per day were not allowed to take leave on a half-day basis.

Law to Amend the Employment Insurance Law

The Bill for Partial Amendment to the Employment Insurance Law, etc. was passed in March 2020, and several labor-related laws, including the Employment Insurance Law, were revised. The following two measures will be implemented in 2021.

  • Companies will be under an obligation to exert efforts to secure employment and employment opportunities for employees up to the age of 70; and
  • Large companies have to make public announcements setting out what percentage of their workforce has come from mid-career recruitment. Mid-career recruitment is recruitment activities that specifically target individuals who have a certain amount of experience. This is significant as, previously, most major Japanese companies have preferred to employ graduates.


It is suggested that employers take note of, and prepare for, these changes.

© 2021 Momo-o, Matsuo & Namba

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