Japan

Family friendly changes introduced, including extension of child care leave
On 1 October 2017, changes to the Act on the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care and Family Care Leave (ikuji kyuugyou kaigo kyuugyou tou ikuji matawa kazoku kaigo wo okonau roudousha no fukushi ni kansuru houritsu) came into force. The intention of the changes is to improve workplace atmosphere and flexibility for employees who have family and childcare responsibilities. One of the changes is that in certain circumstances (e.g., where there is no vacancy at a nursery school) an employee may apply for further child care leave if his/her child has reached the age of 18 months. The child care leave in this situation may be extended up until the time the child reaches the age of two.

Right to Convert Fixed-Term Employment Contracts to Indefinite-Term Employment Contracts
Amendments to the Labour Contract Act (roudou keiyaku hou) came into force on 1 April 2013. Among other things, the amendments have introduced a provision allowing an employee who has been continuously employed on a fixed-term employment contract by the same employer for a total of more than five years to apply to convert his/her fixed-term employment contract into an indefinite-term employment contract. The calculation of such period includes any fixed-term employment contract period (including any extension periods) where the fixed term contract (or extension period) has commenced on or after 1 April 2013. Any period of employment under a fixed-term employment that commenced before such date is excluded. For example, if an employer hired a one year fixed-term employee on 1 April 2013 and extended the employment period each year over the subsequent four years, such fixed-term employee will have the right from 1 April 2018 to convert his/her fixed-term employment contract into an indefinite-term employment contract if the employer extends the fixed-term contract again on 1 April 2018. Employers of fixed-term employees therefore need to be aware of the risks involved in the case of extending employment terms for more than five years.