Corporate Japan is notoriously known for its crazy working hours. Sure if you’re an investment banker or a lawyer it’s somewhat socially expected that your hours can stretch to more than twelve hours a day (in case twelve hours doesn’t ring a bell to you, that’s working from 9 am till 9 pm and that’s still not that bad). But in Japan, this level of working hours is seen (and very much expected!) almost everywhere in almost every industry. No need to mention that the outcome of such crazy working hours is that you have no life on weekdays. “After 5 (or 6)” and “happy hour” are fairy tales in Japan. Common sense directs our attention to getting compensated for those extra hours. After all, time is money. But strangely (and illegally), that is not always the case in Corporate Japan.
Labor Standards Law Article 32 Paragraph 1 （労働基準法第３２条第１項） stipulates that excluding break time, “an employer shall not have an employee work for more than 40 hours per week” (The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training, http://www.jil.go.jp/english/ ). Paragraph 2 （第２項） stipulates that excluding break time, “an employer shall not have an employee work for more than 8 hours per day for each day of the week” (The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training, http://www.jil.go.jp/english/ ). And if your employer requires you to do overtime, Article 37 Paragraph 1 （第３７条第１項） stipulated that “In the event that an employer extends working hours or has an employee work on days off from work … the employer shall pay an increased wage for work during such hours or on such days at a rate … within the range of no less than 25 percent and no more than 50 percent over the normal wage per working hour or working day.”
Now you know your rights! But I wouldn’t advise demanding directly to your boss for extra pay even if you’re not being compensated. That’s just not the way Corporate Japan functions. Doing so will probably lead to you being disliked by your superiors and management. Probably, the best way is for you to report to the Labor Standards Inspection Office （労働基準監督署）. These are the guys that penalize companies for not being in compliance with the Labor Standards Law and enforce, even retroactively （遡及適用）, the application of it. And they will respect your anonymous status.
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.