For sure I always enjoy browsing through the annually salary guide by Hays (Company specializing in recruitment, placing professional candidates in permanent, temporary and interim jobs) for Asia, because for years it was very interesting for me to see the changes in employment situation not only for Japan, but as well then in direct context with Asia. Although I have solely insights to technical related business areas, for me the content seems rather accurate from what I can judge.
While every year the comment of the lack of bilingual employees is a given, I was surprised this time to see a substantial increase of overtime in the covered areas of China, Singapore and Japan. In the last 12 months 49% percent reported an increase of 5-10 hours per week of overtime, while at the same time 52% will not get paid for the additional overtime. There could be several reasons behind this trend: First simply the Japanese expectation of an employee to work more than the official agreed working hours is now spreading into Asia, which I doubt. Or then as a second possibility, increased global competition sets high pressure on getting many things done in a limited time period, forcing employees to push themselves hard to get their projects done in time. Finally what I see most likely not only for Asia, but the rest of the world as well: The era when an employee was able to work a fixed number of hours per week is gone. Employees are hired and expected to get their job done, not depending then actually on the hours worked.
On the other hand, whether my perceived reality is reflected in the labor law is a different story. Or let me then expand the thought one point further: While now Japan needs to focus on recovery and getting back on track with the economic situation, how strong should be the focus on labor law? What should we focus first: working conditions based strictly on labor law or get the economic situation back on track?
Brought to you by a much better feeling, almost healthy again,
Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)