• 18 . 08 . 04
  • I couldn’t live without holidays, but it seems that Japanese businesses can’t live with them.

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Holiday Allowance

Working for Nova, I get 10 days holiday per year plus 10 days at New Year. Not the most holiday in the world by any means, especially compared to university life, but this is the (sur)real world after all. This allowance seems to be standard among Japanese companies, with the addition of national holidays which we don’t get. The difference for Japanese workers is that they are not allowed to take their holiday.

Well, technically they are. They are legally entitled to holiday of course, but not obliged to take them. And nobody takes them. The Japanese payment system is basically a standard salary plus a huge bonus paid twice a year. This is often as much as 2 months salary in one go. But, the bonus is at the discretion of the company. In another example of Japanese society’s duplicity, any worker that takes up their statutory holiday allowance is likely to receive a greatly reduced bonus for that term, and possibly for the forseeable future!

I was told today of a person who has 40 free days saved up, over a period of 4 or 5 years. So far this year she hasn’t taken a vacation. These days will carry over into next year. The irony is that because of the recession and general economic doom and gloom, her company has hardly any work. The result? She sits in an office all day pretending to be busy with 5 people who are doing the same. They would actually be doing the company a favour by taking their holidays, but it just won’t happen. This situation is apparently typical for most workers who have been there for more than a few years.

Working where I do, the situation is different. It is expected that we will make use of our allowance and of course we all do without penalty. Being gaijin does have its advantages…

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