The Ordinance for Enforcement of the Act on Childcare Leave, Caregiver Leave and Other Measures for the Welfare of Workers Caring for Children or Other Family Members (Ordinance) has been amended to allow employees to take childcare and family care leave on an hourly basis. These changes will take effect from 1 January 2021.

Existing Entitlements

Employees in Japan are entitled to the following leave entitlements (amongst others):

  • child nursing leave: an employee with a child under elementary school age who is sick or injured may apply for unpaid child nursing leave for up to five days per year. If an employee has two or more of such children, they may apply for up to 10 days of unpaid child nursing leave per year; and
  • family nursing leave: an employee may apply for up to five days of unpaid leave per year to care for a family member requiring constant care for two weeks or more. If an employee has two or more family members requiring such constant care, they may apply for up to 10 days of unpaid family nursing leave per year.

Currently, the entitlements may only be taken on either a full-day or a half-day basis. However, employees who work for four hours or less per day cannot utilise such entitlements on a half-day basis.

Amendments to the Child and Family Nursing Leave Entitlements

Pursuant to the revised Ordinance, employees will be able to take time off for child or family nursing leave on an hourly basis from 1 January 2021. The entitlement to hourly child and family nursing leave also applies to employees who work for four hours or less per day.

Where the nature of the business or the employees' role makes it difficult for employees to take time off on an hourly basis, employers may enter into a labour management agreement with employees to agree that the employer to may refuse a request for such time off. Such roles include, for instance:

  • cabin attendants in aircraft flying international routes;
  • employees working at a remote location requiring a long travel time; and
  • employees working on an assembly-line system or a shift system where taking time off on an hourly basis creates issues to the system.

Key Takeaways

Employers should ensure that their work rules, handbook and internal policies are updated to remain compliant.

Where necessary by virtue of the nature of the business or the employees' role, employers should also enter into labour management agreements to exclude the relevant employees from the hourly child and family nursing leave entitlement.