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Parental Leave

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Parental Leave

By Emi on Monday, May 17, 1999 - 7:42 pm:


These are the publications mentioned in Cornelia's post further down this page.

By Anonymous on Friday, April 2, 1999 - 7:12 pm:

Hello, I wonder if you know anything about Japanese Law and the requirements for time off from work at the time of birth of a child for the father. For example in Europe you can take a one year sabbatical from work. Is their anything like this in Japan? I remember something being passed recently. Thanks for any info.

By F. Tanaka on Sunday, April 4, 1999 - 6:34 am:

maternity leaves for fathers, I think it was adopted to the law several years ago. And technically, it has started. But actually, there are quite few fathers take the leaves still now. I am asking my friends who are employees of various kinds of Japanese companies and gathering more information. I will also ask my husband's colleague's case and get back to you again.

By K. C. on Sunday, April 4, 1999 - 7:32 am:

I looked and looked but must have gotten rid of the pamphlet I had concerning child leave. Basically, as I remember it, the law states that either parent is allowed up to one year from the baby's birth as a leave from work, without pay. However, I was told that (as with so many other 'laws' in Japan), that the final decision is up to the company. In other words a company can refuse to acknowledge this right. My information is at least 5 yrs old. It is best to ask a lawyer or contact the appropriate Government agency (Labor Ministry (03) 3593-1211) for more details. Sorry, this is the best I could come up with.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, April 6, 1999 - 11:06 pm:

I spoke to Homma-san (3593-1211 ext 5622) Women's Bureau of the Policy & Planning Section. She sent me some materials published in English. I received two booklets written in English. The contents of the first booklet (1997) are accessible on the Internet via the Ministry of Labour's homepage
The title of the booklet is _Labour Administration: Toward a Secure, Comfortable and Active Society_ by The Ministry of Labour, Japan. The second booklet (1998) is titled _Working Women in Japan_ by The Japan Institute of Worker's Evolution.
After spending some time trying to read through the materials, this is a brief summary of what I came up with: An employer can not refuse an application for child care leave, unless: the worker has been employed for less than one year, or the worker's spouse is able to take care of the said child, or the worker is a person "provided for by ordinance of the Ministry of Labour as a worker with regard to whom there is found to be good cause for not allowing the taking of child care leave" (_Working Women in Japan_ pages 111-12).
Also, there is no specific penal provision translated in the booklet, to put any teeth into the "law" as far as I could tell. I called Homma-san again and she faxed me 12 pages of the "Enforcement Regulations for the Law Concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care and Family Care Leave" (Ministry of Labour Ordinance No. 25 of Oct. 15, 1991) Yes, this has already been translated into English! This includes a definition of the quoted line above:
".... a person who falls into any of the following categories:
(1) a worker with respect to whom it is clear that the employment relationship will end within one year calculated from the day on which the application for child care leave was received
(2) a worker whose fixed number of working days per week is not more than that determined by the Minister of Labour to be a very small number:
(3) a worker who is making application for child care leave in the event that all of the numbered items of the preceding article apply to a person who is a parent of the child involved in said application and who is neither said worker nor spouse of said worker."
!!! This gets complicated!!! IF any of this applies to you, please email me directly and I will pass it on.
Homma-san also explained that there is no penalty, but that if there is a dispute, then the employer and employee involved can go to have the dispute discussed at a Women & Young Worker's Office (Ministry of Labour) which are located one in each prefecture. If the employee in question is a man, then he would still go to the same office for settling the dispute.
The only incentive apparently for the employer to adhere to the law is a subsidy award from the government for each employee that takes leave. The subsidies are outlined in the documents I received, but are lengthy to summarize here.

By F. Tanaka on Thursday, April 15, 1999 - 9:31 am:

Concerning the nursing leave, I have asked my friends who are working for IBM Japan, Roche (medical firm), Meitetsu Agency (an advertising agency in Nagoya), Toyama Prefectural Office, and NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.
They all have regulations to guarantee one to three years leave for both female and male employees. IBM Japan, NHK and Toyama Prefectural Office has actual case that male workers took the leave although they are very few. In my friends' opinion, there still are lack of understandings with the law itself and gender-equal system in their offices.

By J.C on Thursday, May 13, 1999 - 6:54 am:

It was interesting to read all the details about
One of the
male teachers at the high school where I work took six months leave last year. The female teachers thought he was great, the male teachers either admired him for having the guts to do it or ridiculed him. He had a hard time being accepted by mothers in the park, but I think he really appreciated the time with his child. ( His wife took six months leave before him then went back to work.) Being a teacher probably made it easier to take leave as they are not quite as restricted as "salarymen" types and it is easier to take a term or two and find a replacement.

By Natasha on Saturday, November 1, 2003 - 10:02 pm:

see reader comments at

British woman wins case over denied maternity leave
Saturday, November 1, 2003
TOKYO EA 39-year-old British woman won a landmark damage compensation lawsuit on Friday against her former employer, a Japanese government-affiliated nonprofit entity, for firing her after denying her maternity leave because she was a contract staff member.

The Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Sarah Hassell, a former worker with the EU-Japan Center for Industrial Cooperation, concluding that the denial of maternity leave and dismissal were invalid, and ordered the center to pay 500,000 yen in compensation in addition to unpaid wages.

According to Hassell's lawyer, it is the first ruling in Japan to acknowledge that contract workers also can apply for maternity leave.
In handing down the ruling, Judge Yukiko Ito said, "The contract was renewed automatically, so in reality, it was a contract that did not have a limited employment period. To have refused the request for maternity leave despite knowing of the real employment situation was an illegal behavior."

The ruling said Hassell applied for maternity leave in March last year after giving birth to her third child. But the center rejected her request citing her fixed-term employment contract and fired her that June.

Japan's legislation on holidays for child care and nursing care does not apply to part-time workers, temporary staff and others hired under fixed-term contracts.

However, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare considers contract employees whose contracts are repeatedly renewed as being no different from regular salaried staff and that they qualify under the child and nursing care holiday law.

A representative of the center, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, declined to comment, saying the center needs to examine the details of the ruling. (Kyodo News)

By alex on Sunday, December 12, 2004 - 1:00 pm:

We are 2 months pregnant and are wondering about getting maternity + paternity leave entitlements.

How do they work?

How do you claim?

How long are they?


By ccm on Sunday, March 27, 2005 - 12:58 pm:

hi Alex, Sorry this is a late response. I can only answer briefly based on my personal experience going on leave this past year. Basically I worked for a small-mid sized company, and my HR person took care of all the paperwork for me. In my case I told them I wanted to start my paperwork for my leave about a month or 2 before I actually went on leave. They had me fill out a form with the specific dates I wanted off, and they sent it off to the government. I got my periodic statements while on leave while the money was direct deposited into my bank account. I was supposed to get 30% of my salary during the childcare leave portion of my absence (60% for the childbirth leave portion, the 6-8 weeks surrounding the actual birth), but there was actually a ceiling on how much I could get yen-wise, so I wasn't getting my full 30%. That's the fine print I did not know about. You get the remaining 10% if you return to work for at least 6 months. Basically, in Japan you are entitled to take a leave up until your child's first birthday, and you get 40% (technically, less if you make a high salary) of your salary if you return to work for at least 6 mos after your leave. Trying to write all this before my baby wakes up, so I hope it isn't too jumbled. good luck.

By Dave on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 9:04 pm:

As a recent single-parent male.
Do I have the right to apply for paid maternity leave from my company?
Does anyone know about the policy regarding
male foreign single parent paid maternity leave?
What is the policy according Japanese law?
I heard that women can take upto a year paid maternity leave.How about men?
Which government department deals with such matters?

By Swapnali on Thursday, May 31, 2007 - 1:13 am:

I am not sure about the paid maternity (like) leave for men. But you can certainly get childcare leave (unpaid) for a year (even more in some comp) Or you can get reduction in working hours for child care. In that case your salary for reduced hours will be cut.

By Jenny on Saturday, June 2, 2007 - 1:14 am:

Just curious, if you are a man, and you are single, how are you going to have a baby? I don't think you get parental leave for any kids sired out of wedlock.

It's not called maternity leave. It's parental leave. And even though it is written in some government guideline, in reality it doesn't really exist, unless you are employed by someone that follows government guidelines to the letter. That would be the government. Even the post office is now privatized, and even before it was privatized, they were found guilty of clocking people out at the appointed hour but then still expecting them to stay overtime another 2-4 hours (for free).

Well, you can always ask, right?

Labor benefits in this country have deteriorated from not so great to even worse. The best labor policies tend to be with the big foreign companies, according to my Japanese friends. Universities sometimes are pretty good (at following government guidelines).

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