By ATOM Legal Professional Corporation English speaking lawyers in Japan

When hiring a foreign national for your company in Japan, your company must adhere to all employment regulations that apply to Japanese nationals, as well as a few additional regulations. 

Visa/status of residence requirements

When hiring foreign employees in Japan, it is crucial that they have, or are issued, a proper visa to live and work in Japan. If you are lucky, your employee will already have a status of residence in Japan and either be on the working visa you need, or on a specified visa (Long-Term Resident, Spouse or Child of National, or Spouse or Child of Resident visa). Specified visas allow the holder to work in any industry, both full-time and part-time.

However, if the prospective employee does not hold the working visa needed for your company nor one of the specified visas listed above, then you will have to either issue a new visa (if hiring from abroad), or change the employee’s current visa status (if hiring from within Japan). 

There are currently 15 categories of working visas in Japan (as of 2019), not including the working holiday visa. Working visas are typically issued for periods of 1 year or 3 years, with the exception of the Entertainer visa which is typically issued for periods of 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. These are the Professor, Artist, Religious Activities, Journalist, Investor/Business Manager, Legal/Accounting Services, Medical Services, Researcher, Instructor, Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/Int’l Services, Intracompany Transferee, Skilled Labor, Entertainer, Specified skill worker, Technical intern training, and the Highly Skilled Foreign Professional (HSP) visas. 

For a more detailed look at visas for foreigners living in Japan, click here.

Contract/working condition requirements

To hire a foreign national as an employee at your company, you must abide by the Japanese Labor Standards Act (official English translation). Make sure to read the Act in its entirety. We have a more detailed article on Japanese employment laws that can be found here, but some of the most important articles to note particularly when hiring foreign employees are:

  • It is strictly prohibited to discriminate by nationality, religion, or social status when hiring (Labor Standards Act, Article 3).
  • The employer must not force labor upon employees through violence or intimidation against the latter’s will (Labor Standards Act, Article 5-6).
  • In a labor contract, the employer must clearly indicate wages, working hours, and other working conditions to the employee (Labor Standards Act, Article 15).
  • The employer cannot make a contract that creates a penalty for the non-fulfillment of a contract by resigning before the end of the contract, etc. (Labor Standards Act, Article 16)
  • The employer must pay the employee for any work outside of the normal working hours (Labor Standards Act, Article 37).
  • The employer must pay the employee wages that are equal to or more than the minimum wage (Minimum Wages Act, Article 5).

Requirements after employing a foreign national

There are several measures that your company must take after successfully hiring a foreign employee. Japanese employment laws require that companies report to Hello Work (Harōwāku), the Japanese government’s Employment Service Center, whenever they hire a foreign employee. Information about the employee, such as full name and status of residence, must be reported. When the employee leaves the company, this must also be reported.

All full-time foreign employees must be enrolled in the same employee benefit programs that the Japanese employees are enrolled in. These include:

  • Health insurance (kenkōhoken-ryō) – 50% covered by the employer for Social Security (shakai hoken)
  • Welfare pension premium (kōsei nenkin hoken-ryō) – 50% covered by the employer
  • Partial coverage of Employment Insurance Premium (koyō hoken-ryō)
  • Full coverage of Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance (rōsai hoken-ryō)
  • Annual paid leave (nenji yūkyū kyūka)

Consult an English-speaking lawyer

This article has only described the basics of hiring a foreign employee. The reality is that potential problems can arise in the process of hiring, and it is always better to have a lawyer beside you to make sure everything is clearly legal. Reach out to an English-speaking lawyer in Japan by calling 03-6868-8647 for a professional consultation, or contact us through our online contact form.

This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice. For advice from a lawyer, please call the number listed above.

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