Career Guide

Part-Time Jobs with Free Shift

Part-Time Jobs with Free Shift

Before starting to find a part-time job in Japan, it is necessary to learn about possible work schedules and find the most suitable one for oneself. Nowadays international students and housewives conclude the majority of part-time workers, for whom studies or families should be taken first. This makes a shift work schedule, especially free shift, much more welcomed because of its flexibility at working hours compared to a fixed work schedule.

We are going to introduce all those work schedules, and merit and demerit of the most popular free shift. We will also recommend three part-time jobs with free shifts, and talk about why a shift work schedule is highly recommended to international students. As shift schedules may be discussed at job interviews, it will be better for job seekers to grasp their possible working hours and working days in advance.

Types of work schedule for part-time jobs

Different from full-time workers working every week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday for 40 hours, part-time workers get more flexibility on their work schedule, i.e. the days per week and the hours per day at their job. Part-time jobs in Japan have some typical types of work schedule as follow:

1. Fixed work schedule

A fixed work schedule means that all work contents of a job position are supposed to be completed by one worker. Working days every week and working hours everyday for the worker are fixed advancely like a full-time job, but the total of working hours is supposed to be less, like 5 hours per day.

Fixed working hours for part-time jobs vary from employer to employer, which need to be agreed upon by both the employer and the worker.

2. Shift work schedule

A shift work schedule means that all work contents of a job position are supposed to be completed by more than one worker, and everyday or every week's working hours are shifted among workers. It is much more flexible than a fixed work schedule that working hours and working days per week can vary. There are two kinds of shift work schedule:

-Fixed shift

Depending on the employer's policy, whole business hours are divided into some shifts, for example, morning shift, swing shift, night shift, graveyard shift. A fixed shift will decide the working days per week and working shift per day at job postings or at job interviews.

-Flexible shift (Free shift)

A flexible shift allows the maximum of flexibility, that workers declare their available working days and working hours next week to the employer, and the employer will decide the final shift based on the declaration of other workers. Co-workers can also share their available hours before deciding shifts.

Pros and cons of flexible shift

Though a flexible shift may have become the most popular shift work schedule in Japan, we still need to understand its advantages and disadvantages.


As work time is self declared per week, a flexible shift can prior the worker's private life or study while earning money. They can plan their shifts flexibly at their idle time between studies or houseworks. And they can change their shift easily for urgent uses, or empty some days' shift for a vacation.

Or they may be able to run errands which must be completed on weekdays like city halls, banks, and hospitals. They can also go out to have fun on weekdays to avoid the weekend rush and holiday prices.


As the flip side of flexibility, the working plan for one week later, or next month is unsure, so that workers may have trouble with planning for the future, or suffer from irregular life.

If a shift on the weekend is scheduled, there will be no time to spend with family and friends. It may be difficult to take leaves during busy seasons for part-time jobs at restaurants, retails, and hotels in spite of flexible shifts.

Recommended part-time jobs with flexible shift

As the severe labor force shortage out of the aged population in Japan, especially in customer service industries, almost all part-time job positions provide flexible shift working schedules to attract every possible worker to work at any possible idle hours. We are going to recommend three popular jobs:

1. Convenience store staff

Among all jobs, convenience stores offer the most flexibility especially those 24 business hours stores. Part-time workers can choose any idle time from early morning to evening to work. An early morning and night shift also has a higher hourly wage according to the Labor Standard Act.

Stores of the largest 3 chains, 7-Eleven, Lawson, FamilyMart, can be found everywhere, so it is easy to find a part-time job nearby. Work contents include cash registers, stocking and restocking items, cooking hot snacks and cleaning. New workers will be trained before starting work. As store staff is supposed to serve customers in Japanese, a good Japanese language level will be required.

2. Cleaning and bed making

Cleaning and bed making jobs at hotels, or cleaning jobs at facilities, apartments, and universities usually provide flexible working hours. Though morning shift is much more common than night shift, time to start work and working day still can be chosen freely.

Cleaning jobs are easy to start with some basic instructions taught, and workers can do their work alone without talking with others so Japanese language level is basically not required.

3. Kitchen and hall staff

Many restaurants opening from early morning to deep night also provide flexible shifts to part-time workers. The busy lunch and dinner hours are much more human needed and of course more shifts scheduled.

Job positions can be divided into kitchen staff and hall staff. Kitchen staff will cook or help cook at the kitchen, while hall staff will greet and escort customers to tables, take orders, deliver food and beverages, do cashiers and cleaning, etc.

Shift work schedule is recommended to international students

Compared with a fixed work schedule, shift work schedule is more flexible for international students to take their studies and private time with friends first and earn some money at idle time. A shift work schedule also allows students to schedule more time for exams or job hunting in seasons without quitting the part-time job, or to hang out on weekdays to enjoy their life in Japan.