An Answer to Japan’s New Labor Law

An Answer to Japan’s New Labor Law

In June 2018, Japan passed legislation to limit overtime hours to under 100 per month and 720 per year. The new law is in response to the distressing death toll resulting from overlong working hours that have become a feature of Japan’s corporate landscape, so much so, that ‘death by overwork’ even has its own name, coined in the 1970s: Karoshi.

Japan’s current work culture dates back to the era of exceptionally rapid growth following WW2, and cultural changes are now so entrenched it’s going to take more than regulation to change people’s approach in the workplace and the long working hours. For example, leaving before your boss is still frowned upon. Shirts and ties can be bought in convenience stores for workers who don’t even make it home. And jobs in the larger corporate companies are still very much hierarchical, with employees staying in one post for decades and thus leaving little space for new, younger employees or internal movement. This, in turn, has a negative effect on productivity, and Japan is, in fact, the lowest-producing nation in the G7.

But is Karoshi unique to Japan? Apparently not, as a new wave of emerging economies follows suit with longer working hours. Mandarin Chinese also has a word for death by overwork: guolaosi. And in South Korea, the current most-overworked Asian nation, new labor laws have had to cut the maximum weekly work hours from 68 to 52. Meanwhile, a third of Americans are said to work well above the set 40-hour week, and although Australia’s government have capped working hours at 38, there are still many allowances for overtime and additional hours as needed. According to OECD data, it’s the workers of The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and France, with average working weeks closer to 30 hours, who are enjoying the most downtime and a better work-life balance.

From April 2019, large companies in Japan must comply with the new rule or face penalties, while smaller companies are being given an extra year to comply.

Outsourcing: a flexible solution

Obviously, the legislation will have a big impact on all Japanese companies, big and small. But by outsourcing, businesses have a dual opportunity: to meet the new requirements and delegate some of their trickier and more time-consuming tasks. The fluctuating global economy means that companies need to be competitive in terms of costs, and flexible in line with global trends. Outsourcing can deliver on both fronts.

Let’s take a look at the key benefits:

  • Quality & speed – many outsourcing companies are specialists in a particular service, which means the quality of the service and the speed at which it’s delivered will likely be higher than the in-house alternative.
  • Flexibility & cost savings – every business experiences times of decreased demand. With outsourcing, you can remove the problem and associated cost burden of under-utilized staff, and react instantly to market fluctuations and global trends.
  • Business focus & growth – when you outsource, both human and non-human capacities can be reinvested in the core business, ultimately strengthening the business and paving the way for growth.

Now let’s take a look at some of the main contenders for outsourcing.

Outsourcing contender: translation

In an increasingly interconnected global marketplace, multilingual – and multichannel – communications are not only inevitable but also essential to global success. With an overwhelming number and type of materials to be translated, and a vast web of regulatory and cultural variables to satisfy, fulfilling translation tasks in-house is a formidable challenge.

A trusted language solutions partner will take these time-consuming tasks and all the associated pressures off your hands. Professional linguists understand both the cultural nuances and technical specifics of source materials, while the latest translation technology offers huge time and cost savings.

Outsourcing contender: graphic design

Thanks to the Internet, excellent graphic design is available around the globe and around the clock, and these 24/7/365 platforms give you on-demand, experienced and efficient output at a very affordable cost. Today’s information fluidity enables businesses of all sizes to offload time-consuming creative work to creative specialists – saving money, supporting quality and freeing you up to focus on what’s most important: growing your business.

Outsourcing contender: customer service

Hosting a full customer service department is costly. According to the Verge, an online new media outlet, many telecoms businesses in North America outsource their customer service facilities to Mexico and other regions outside the US. In fact, a whole range of services, including after-sales support, customer care calls and troubleshooting, can be handled by external experts or teams of trained professionals.

Be ready for the new legislation: start with translation

With less than 12 months until the new labor law comes into force, it makes good business sense to start preparing without delay. By outsourcing your translation, you’ll be able not only to reduce your staff’s working hours but also to enhance the overall productivity of your team.

At SDL we have the expertise, the experience, the technology and the economies of scale to help you meet the new requirements and save you additional time, money and considerable hassle.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you comply with the new legislation.