I mentioned earlier in “time off” about how you’re eligible to receive paid-time-off (PTO) (有給休暇) from work. Another issue that often pops up related to PTO is having your employer buy back your unused PTO when leaving the company (有給休暇の買戻し). This is a common practice in U.S. and many foreign companies (外資系企業) in Japan as well as some domestic companies (日本企業) apply similar practice.
This practice may be foreign to you if you’ve never seen or heard of it before, but in a nutshell, you’re employer will buy back whatever amount PTO you weren’t able to use up by the time you leave the company. Let's say after you’ve accrued 26 days of PTO you decide to leave your current employer because you landed on a better job. As also mentioned earlier in “resignation notice: 2 weeks US, 1 month Japan”, you give your employer 1 month advance notice about your intent to quit. But say there are only 22 business days in the month to come. In addition, your employer wants you to finish up the tasks you’ve been working on and also to train someone in your function as your successor (後任者). You expect this to take at least 2 full weeks, or 14 business days. What just happened is that you physically can’t use up your accrued PTO (of the 22 business days, you’d be coming in at least 14 days leaving you with a maximum of 8 days PTO you can use by the time you leave). Without company policy to buy back those extra PTO’s you’d end up throwing away the remaining 18 PTO’s that you’ve worked so hard to earn. Does that sound fair? Hell no, and that’s exactly why some companies installed PTO buy back practices.
Now, how much you can trade your unused PTO’s in for depends on each employer. Currently, Labor Standards Law (労働基準法) does not set any standards for PTO buy backs (it was never in the culture of Corporate Japan because employees were not expected to leave) and leave the practice up to employers. Some employers divide your annual salary by the number of business days in a year to arrive at your daily salary and deem that to be the value of your PTO for a day. Some employers use similar methods but multiply your daily salary by a certain percentage to calculate the value of your unused PTO. In many cases the details are written in your employer’s employment handbook (就業規則) so you may want to obtain a copy of it from your HR. Labor Standards Law requires that employment handbooks be accessible, at all times, by employees.
Thinking about working in Japan? Preparing to move overseas almost becomes a full-time job in the final weeks of your departure. Many people quit their jobs weeks before so they can devote their time to preparation. But what about your health insurance? Short-term health insurance plans are a great solution. ↓
Below are links to Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultants providing services in English. Also below are useful links related to working in Japan and links to women balancing career and personal happiness. WJA realizes and promotes women's increasing value in the labor market.