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Japan: Pay and benefits

Original and updating authors: Koki Yanagisawa and Erino Yoneda, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

See the legal services provided by the authors of XpertHR International > Japan, including any discounts/offers for subscribers.


  • The payment of wages by the employer in return for work performed by the employee is an essential element of the employment contract. (See General)
  • Wages must be paid, either in cash or by transfer to a bank account, general securities account or account of certain fund transfer service providers, at least once a month, except in the case of bonuses and other extraordinary payments, and employers are required to provide employees with an itemised payslip. (See Payment of wages)
  • Deductions from wages are permitted only where provided for by laws/regulations or by a "labour-management agreement". (See Deductions)
  • There is no general requirement that an employer must provide employees with equal pay for equal work, but discriminatory treatment of a female employee as compared with a male employee with respect to wages is prohibited, as is pay discrimination on grounds of an employee's nationality, creed, social status, disability or (in some cases) part-time status. (See Equal pay)
  • There is no national minimum wage but statutory minimum wages are set at the level of each prefecture and for some specific industries. (See Minimum wages)
  • There are two statutory public pension schemes - the basic National Pension and earnings-related Employees' Pension Insurance - while employers often provide extra pension benefits to employees on a voluntary basis. (See Pensions)
  • Employers must withhold employees' income tax at source, and employers and employees must pay various statutory social insurance contributions. (See Income tax and social security)
  • An employer is under no statutory obligation to pay an employee who is absent from work owing to sickness, and sickness absence and pay are generally governed by employers' internal "work rules". (See Sick pay)
  • It is relatively common for employers to provide employees with benefits in kind. (See Benefits in kind)