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Best Time To Leave Work At A Japanese Company — 32 Comments

  1. It might make me feel sparkly… I don’t work so I am not quite sure. It probably depends on what type of job you are working labor intensive or brain intensive.

  2. Hi!

    Though slightly irrelevant, I just came to wonder; What kind of agreements do people usually have concerning overtime in other countries ? (Of course i could just google, but ..

    In my country, you usually get paid double for the overtime hours. The hours you put in, can also be taken as vacation at a later time. So in theory, if you only work at odd hours (always overtime), you would work the same amount of hours, but have double the paycheck. Therefore, overtime is a lucrative thing in our country, and is usually limited to x amount of hours each week etc.

    How is it in the states/japan ?

    • The overtime policy varies by company of course, but the most common state of affairs is that people are staying late at work outside of the official overtime policy. If you want to officially work overtime there’s usually some kind of paperwork or other approval process that’s required before you are officially working overtime.

      So basically people are at work outside of the hours they are contractually obligated to. Much like adshap alludes to the whole thing seems like a shared societal delusion. You know what would happen if everyone just started going home? Absolutely nothing except maybe a massive rise in productivity. It’s WAY too hard, legally speaking, to fire people in Japan so the bigger threat is being marked as some kind of slacker or non-team player.

      Also, this particular catch-phrase seems to only apply to women. I’m not sure what the up-to-date stats are but my guess is these are still the girls who hope to get married in order to quit these sorts of dead-end jobs. So this is some kind of magic time that allows them to seem like they are doing their part for their company while still being able to have a social life.

      (If you have the ability I highly recommend you read some of the articles and the 2chan threads about the articles. They explain all of this far better than I could ever hope to.)

    • Tokyostyle’s info rings very true. I don’t know the exact Japanese law, but I believe it was amended to make unpaid overtime not “allowed.” Of course what is not allowed and what is actually done in practice are two different things. So it is not official overtime. You don’t “have” to work it. But many places are getting stricter on not allowing “voluntary free overtime.”

      In the states, it depends on the state and type of worker. Some pay normal, some pay 1.5, some pay double for every hour worked over 40.

    • Ah, as i thought. But you still use the term “overtime”? In my country, “overtime” is usually used for (over)paid time.

      For unpaid work we use a term that translates to “Non-invoiced hours”. Fortunately this problem is almost non-existant for 95% of us. Though, a few large consulting firms DO have this. They “require” you to work for 60-70 hours per week. Since the job also pays more, its like having a 160% position with normal salary though.

      Fortunately there has been a lot of focus on this lately – people who have to work too much to keep their positions, because of a high unemployment rate etc. Especially in countries like China etc. there has been an huge improvement.

      • The word 残業 is used for both paid and unpaid overtime. If you get paid for your overtime then you receive 残業代 but you can’t use that word to describe working paid overtime.

        Wikipedia points out that there are actually other words for it 時間外労働、超過勤務/超勤 but they are all synonyms and none of them seem to be associated with being paid. The first one is probably some kind of formal or legal expression. Also Wikipedia reminded me of 代替休暇 which is a system where if you work overtime you can take another day off. I’m not sure how common this is except for the fact I know it sometimes applies to public school teachers.

        I should probably point out that I’ve never had a real Japanese job so there’s probably subtleties I’ve missed. For example I’ve only seen two actual employment contracts and both of those were the temporary contracts you get when you are first hired. Thus I don’t know a lot of the specifics as far as what your contract says and what your manager actually expects.

  3. 8 PM sounds so late. Time is more valuable than money. And what are people working for if they have no leisure time?

  4. I work from 8 to 5, but we have no overtime of any kind but flextime/flexhours instead, which I personally like very much, since that means I can be more productive the days when I really need to be and other days when perhaps there’s a bit less to do, I can leave early.

    Does that concept exist in Japan in any form?

      • I work in Japan and my Japanese company has flextime. We can come in anytime in the morning and leave anytime in the afternoon as long as we pull our 8 hour day with one hour for lunch and are here during the core hours of 11-2pm or something like that. Now, I work in a laboratory so a lot of people stay overtime simply because they have experiments they have to wait on. But when there has been no work to do my coworker has left as early as 2pm on some days and it’s perfectly fine. I only haven’t done it since I’m still new to this company and don’t want to look to happy to go home.

        I also have a friend who works overtime pretty much every day at work so every once in a while she takes a day off (although she’ll still do a little bit of work from home).

        So basically it just depends on the company you’re with. I think the further away you get from a “salaryman” type company, the better your chances are at a normal life.

        • Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like you work in a good environment and one that is conducive to enjoying life outside work as well.

  5. This is a very general observation but from my experience of living in Japan there seems to be two distinct ways of thinking between the west and Japan. In the west, the idea of an ideal husband is someone who provides companionship to the wife and helps raise the children “properly”.

    On the flip side, by working hard to provide a comfortable worry free environment for one’s children is the most ideal Japanese husband. In other words, someone who is self sacrificing for the good of the family.

    Obviously, there are probably other deeper darker reasons why one may work late hours (like not liking family life and feeling comfortable at work), but this seems to be the most common observation that I’ve been able to make.

    • I wonder what caused this divergence in what a good husband should do. I do think it is starting to (very slowly) change though to a father wanting to spend more time with his kids.

  6. I work 3-11 pm and I definitely wouldn’T want to do an extra 3 hours every single day. I wouldn’t mind 1-2 times a week, it would be a nice money bonus, but certainly not everyday! I have way too many other things to do haha, like learning japanese, making videos, exercising, playing guitar, and more… haha

  7. When I was in Japan It was 10am 7pm in small japanese company; but It was baitou so compare to regular employee, I was alway arrived after and leave before :)
    Now I work from 10 am to 6 1/2 pm (France), but with more breaks xD

    • That’s not bad at all. I would think バイト definitely work less (though maybe anyone with Japanese バイト experience can tell me differently?)

      And breaks are good. Lots of breaks are better.

  8. Late to comment but wanted to say it was the practice of unpaid overtime that made me leave Japan and find work elsewhere. Loved Japan but hated the work culture.

    I am now happily living in a SE Asian country where I get a real vacation and can get home at a reasonable hour. Any extra hours I put in I actually get paid for it.

    • I think the overtime/overwork system bothers many people, including the younger Japanese generation.

      It’s slowly changing, but is still a long way off.

  9. I’ve been working 50-60 hours a week with unpaid overtime.
    And I’m happy (well, sparkling if you want).
    It’s not good for health though.

    The keyword here is “love your job” & “proud of your work”.
    Well, to each his own, I suppose.

    • I think it depends on your job, how much enjoyment/value/fulfillment you get out of it, and the type of person you are.

      50-60 is a lot, but it definitely could be much much worse.

      Like a ブラック会社, but that’s another story.

  10. Well… it really depends on what I’d be working with I guess, if I like the job I honestly wouldn’t mind 90h a week, that still gives 11.14h of free time daily (about 10h of sleep for most people, I usually clock 4, I don’t need much sleep).
    Or in other words it’d be like my current occupation anyway :P I work at least 90h weekly working on my programming project(s)

    • That’s still a lot of hours, even for a job you love! I’m very impressed that you can pull that off.

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