Japan’s public sector joins four-day workweek drive

Driven by the need to attract talent, Japan is proposing new laws that will offer more public sector employees a four-day workweek.
By: | April 17, 2023

To attract more talent and change the perception of an overworked culture, Japan is looking to offer a four-day workweek to more public sector employees.

Except for those serving in special departments like the self-defense forces, current laws dictate the weekend as off days for public sector employees. Additionally, a “flextime system” is offered to those who must provide childcare or nursing care, allowing them to compress the 38 hours they are required by law to work into four days instead of five.

Japan’s National Personnel Authority (NPA), an administrative agency, has reportedly recommended law reform that extends the flextime system to more public sector employees.

READ: Can a four-day workweek improve mental health and work-life balance?

With the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reporting in 2022 that about 8.6% of organisations in the private sector already offering more than two off days a week, the move by the NPA is seen as potentially encouraging more organisations to offer a four-day workweek, seeing that the private sector in Asia has a tendency to follow precedents set by the public sector.

For Japan, the move to offer more off days also comes as the public sector struggles to attract talent. About 14,000 candidates applied to sit the public servant exam this spring, the second lowest on record, and represents a decrease of about 30% in the last decade, reported Nikkei Asia.