Japanese labor law generally requires that employees receive at least one holiday per week. However, this is not always practical in some industries. Some jobs require employees to work continuously during a busy season to take advantage of favorable economic or consumer conditions. For example, real estate companies often find themselves busiest during the spring when people graduate, get a job and move into a new apartment. Likewise, many food related industries are busiest during harvest season and have much slower business in the winter.
The right to form a union is protected by the Constitution of Japan as well as the Labor Union Law. Employees are allowed to form unions in Japan as long as the union is formed independently, mostly by employees and its main purpose is improving the working conditions and economic status of the employees.
Japanese labor laws apply equally to foreign workers and Japanese workers, with some exceptions. This means that the same Labor Standards Law, Minimum Wages Law, Industrial Safety and Health Law, the Workmen’s Accident Compensation Insurance Law and the Employment Security Law also apply to foreigners. Especially important is the Labor Standards Law, which protects employees, including foreign employees, from discrimination in wages, working hours or working conditions due to nationality or other status.
The Equal Employment and Opportunity Act, which modified the Labor Standards Act, was a major step forward for women employed in Japan and the first Act to prohibit employers from discriminating against women in terms of mandatory retirement age, dismissal and access to benefits. However, the Labor Standards Act continued to be modified even after the Equal Employment and Opportunity Act, and later acts added protection for men (who were not originally protected from discrimination under the Labor Standards Act or Equal Employment Act) and banning discrimination in recruitment, assignment and promotion as well as any form of indirect discrimination.