Japan’s employment laws favor employees, so it’s essential to understand every regulation to stay compliant. Since terminating employees in Japan can be challenging, the initial recruiting and hiring process becomes even more critical.
Recruiting in Japan
It’s essential to have an understanding of typical workplace culture and general etiquette before you begin the process of recruiting talent in Japan. Keeping the following guidelines in mind will help ensure that the recruitment process is as smooth as possible for you and your international team.
1. Give formal greetings.
When you meet a prospective candidate for the first time, they’ll most likely bow and wait for you to shake their hand. During conversations, be sure to address people by their surname followed by the suffix “san,” meaning “honorable,” rather than referring to the candidate by their first name.
2. Respect privacy.
Avoid asking overly personal questions during your initial meetings with prospective hires. Inquiries about family, relationships, and even work history may be seen as irrelevant to recruitment.
3. Be punctual.
Candidates may arrive to meetings and appointments a few minutes early to ensure that they are ready to begin at the scheduled time. You should plan to do the same. If you do end up running late, let the candidate know ahead of time.
4. Appreciate the value of collectivism.
Employees in Japan often put more emphasis on the contributions of the team as a whole. Don’t be surprised by this mindset, and don’t write off a potential hire who doesn’t focus on selling their specific skill set.
In Japan, recruiting can be a challenge. The labor force isn’t growing significantly, and there isn’t much fluidity in the job market. Even so, there are plenty of talented employees to fill out your international team — you just need to know where to look for them.
Many companies in Japan hire through a traditional process known as shinsotsu. These companies recruit candidates for specialized jobs at the graduate level, hiring them based on ambition, character, and communication skills as soon as they leave prestigious universities. However, new graduates tend to lack specific job skills, experience, and technical knowledge. As a result, shinsotsu may not be the approach you want to take for your company.
Recruiting on social media can also pose a challenge in Japan. Very few companies choose to invest in recruiting on social media because the engagement rate is so low.
Online job boards, on the other hand, can be a helpful avenue for companies trying to recruit talent in Japan. You can also choose to work with a local hiring agency. If you do so, make sure the agency has the proper qualifications to help you get the results you want.
One of the most important things to remember as you recruit in Japan is that your potential hires have a lot of opportunities to choose from. You’ll need to act fast and provide a competitive offer if you want to hire the best employees and put your business in a position to thrive.
How to hire employees in Japan
Before hiring employees in Japan, draft a strong employment contract that lays out the job’s expectation and termination clauses. The Japan Labour Standards Act requires employers to specify matters related to working conditions, including the period of the labor contract, workplace and content of work, working hours, wages, and matters related to promotion and retirement. Certain aspects, like wage and contract duration, are required in writing.
While you are still in the negotiation phase, list all salary and benefits amounts in yen.
Japan employment laws
Employment compliance in Japan includes following the typical workweek hours. Employees usually work 40-hour weeks Monday through Friday unless otherwise stated in an agreement with a union or labor group.
An employment contract should state the maximum hours of overtime work for your company. The overtime rates in Japan are as follows:
- Basic overtime rate — 125% of base hourly wage
- Work on a rest day — 135% of base hourly wage
- Work in excess of maximum weekly hours — 150% of base hourly wage
- Late night rate (between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.) — 125% of base hourly wage
- Late night rate plus basic overtime rate — 150% of base hourly wage
- Late night rate on a rest day — 160% of base hourly wage
- Overtime rate in excess of maximum weekly hours — 175% of base hourly wage
- Late night rate in excess of maximum weekly hours — 175% of base hourly wage
Onboarding in Japan
Japan employment compliance also stipulates how to onboard employees. Before a new employee starts, you’ll need to register them with the appropriate authorities and provide a variety of documents within the applicable deadlines. For example, pension and health insurance forms are due within 5 days of an employee’s start date.
It is also best practice to explain what you expect from your workers before their start date. Send an email to remind employees about your company’s regulations, dress code (if applicable), first-day itinerary, and work rules.
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