Working in Japan offers numerous benefits. While many might dream of working in Japan to get better at Japanese or be immersed in Japanese culture, there are some practical employee benefits worth noting too. These employee benefits help make life in Japan more comfortable, and, in many cases, help with budgeting and financial planning as well. And chances are, many of these benefits may not be available in your home country.
What Are Employee Benefits in Japanese Companies?
Employee benefits are benefits given to workers to help make both their work lives and personal lives more comfortable. In Japan, there is a range of possible employee benefits, though most are given to full-time employees only. Of these benefits, some are required by law, while others are simply the norm, even if not mandatory.
Here are just some of the employee benefits you will likely receive if you work at a Japanese company.
No matter how you commute in Japan, the cost can quickly add up. For those depending on public transportation, train and subway costs in Japan are often higher than in many other countries. This is especially true if you take a train or subway line that is run by a private company. And other modes of transportation, like driving a car, can also be costly once you factor in the cost of gas, insurance, car maintenance, and other expenses.
Thankfully, it’s standard (though not required) for companies in Japan to pay for their employees’ commutes. You will typically be asked to report your route and mode of transportation to your company, and they will reimburse you in your paycheck. They may also offer you one lump sum to pay for an IC commuter pass for an extended amount of time, such as one month or even as much as six months. Be aware that in some cases, the employer will put a limit on how much they will pay for transportation costs. In that case, it can be more cost-effective to live near or on the same train line as your employer.
Even if you don’t plan to spend the rest of your life in Japan, generally residents between the ages of 20 and 59 must be enrolled in the Japanese national pension system. However, many companies also enroll their employees in a pension plan based on their salary. If you do stay in Japan for retirement, these plans usually offer more money than national pension. If you don’t stay in Japan, depending on your country of origin, you may be able to apply to get your pension payments back.
Like pension, all residents must be enrolled in some form of health insurance. When employed in a full-time position, many companies will offer employee health insurance, where the employer pays half of the insurance premium, and the other half is deducted from the employee’s paycheck. This insurance covers 70% of healthcare costs.
If your company doesn’t offer this, you will instead receive national health insurance (which you must apply for at your local government office), and you will still receive 70% coverage of medical costs.
Paid Days Off and Sick Days
If you’re working in Japan, you have a right to receive paid days off. This may vary based on the employer (with some offering additional paid days and holidays), but in principle, those who have been working consecutively at a company for at least six months are eligible to receive paid days off. The number of leave days granted starts at 10 per year and increases with each year of employment. These days can be used for vacation time or as sick days when you’re unable to come to work.
Japanese working culture is known for its long overtime hours, but these hours are often generously paid. If you work over the regular working hours at your company, you may receive an additional 25% and even as much as 60% added to your hourly pay.
If you’re reviewing job offers, be sure to check the contract for a written agreement on overtime pay, since this can vary for each company.
Maternity and Child Care Leave
If you have a child while working for a Japanese company, there are benefits available for both parents. Maternity leave is available to new mothers and allows them to receive 2/3 of their regular pay while staying home with their child. These benefits last for eight weeks after giving birth.
Child care benefits offer an extension to this eight-week period and can be used by both parents. It’s important to note that these benefits are provided by the Japanese government, rather than the employer itself. However, employers are required to comply and make arrangements to allow leave for new parents.
Annual Health Check
You already know about health insurance benefits in Japan, as well as the option to take paid days off when sick. Another way that Japanese companies recognize healthcare needs comes in their annual health checks.
If you work full-time in Japan, your company will often arrange a health check for you, giving you time off to go to the clinic and even covering the costs of the visit for you. And these health checks aren’t just a quick trip to the doctor – these checks are very thorough, typically involving a variety of different body and medical tests.
If you don’t make time to go to the doctor often, or just forget to make a yearly appointment, this is one benefit you can be thankful for.
What About Part-Time and Freelance Workers?
For those who aren’t working with a full-time contract, you may not receive all the benefits listed above. However, you can still receive health care coverage through the national health insurance system. You can also typically expect to receive transportation costs covered and some paid (or partially paid) holidays or days off. And maternity and child care benefits may extend to non-full-time workers as well (though some conditions apply).
Employee Benefits: What to Expect
The benefits discussed here are generally standard and expected in Japanese companies, especially in full-time positions. However, each company, position, and contract may offer some variations. Before accepting a job offer, be sure to ask employers about the particular benefits they offer and what you can expect. And to make sure you receive the employee benefits you’re entitled to legally, consult an employment services agency such as the Foreign Employment Service Centers.
No matter what job you choose, there are many benefits that can make working (and living) in Japan comfortable, fun, and a great place for professional growth.
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