Japanese politician proposes 4-day work week

Member of the Japan House of Councillors Kuniko Inoguchi is backing a bill that would give workers a four-day work week.
By: | January 25, 2021

Inoguchi, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, believes the concept can work, bearing in mind the fact that many businesses in the country have already implemented such a system amid the pandemic and as working from home has become a norm.  

“We have seen that Japan has a latent ability to create flexible work environments and workstyles,” she said, adding that by reducing the number of staff in offices and on public transport, the bill would indirectly be helping the COVID-19 situation too. 

A four-day work week would mean employees will get a three-day weekend, thereby enabling workers to take care of children or elderly relatives, pursue educational opportunities, and explore side business ventures. 

Although workers’ job security would not be compromised, the proposal comes with a catch. It recommends that companies offering a four-day work week pay workers 80% of their base salary or 60% in the case of a three-day work week. 

A concern that comes along with the proposal is that a shorter work week would lead to employee burnout as some might have to squeeze a week’s worth of work in a shorter time frame, according to Mashable. 

READ: Japan’s largest business lobby sees blanket wage hikes as “unrealistic”

Both Microsoft Japan and Mizuho Financial Group already allow employees to opt for shorter workweeks, but to encourage smaller organisations to follow suit, Inoguchi’s proposal would offer government-funded financial incentives for companies willing to move away from a mandatory five-day work week. 

All said, a four-day work week remains a voluntary option and workers can choose not to take it up.