If you take a look at the recruitment posters pasted in convenience stores, or read part-time job descriptions on job search websites, you can always see the hourly wage part, which also maybe with your most concern. The number can be quite detailed, like 898 yen or 985 yen. Why these numbers, how they come?
Actually Japan has made a law, called Minimum Wage Act, to guarantee a minimum level of wage for workers, in order to secure their livelihoods and ensure fair business competition. The minimum wage is determined per prefecture, per year, and per occupation in some cases. Your wage offered by the employer must be more than that. This article will talk about the minimum wage, how to check if you are paid more than it, what to do if you are less paid, and deduction of minimum wage for the probationary period.
According to the Minimum Wage Act, employers must pay wages of not less than the minimum wage to workers, which should be set by the hour, i.e, the minimum hourly wage.
No need to say, setting the minimum wage of Tokyo and Okinawa the same will be unreasonable, considering the urban-rural gap. The Act defines that the minimum wage should set by every region of Japan, and by a certain kind of business or occupation as the following:
Directors of every prefecture's labor bureau will determine the regional minimum wage, based on living expenses and employers' ability to pay in the prefecture.
For example, the minimum hourly wage in 2019 is 1,013 yen for Tokyo, which is the highest, and 964 yen for Osaka, 861 yen for Hokkaido, and 790 yen for Aomori, Okinawa, etc, which is the lowest in all 47 prefectures. And the nationwide average minimum wage is 901 yen per hour.
Each prefecture's labor bureau will also determine minimum wages for specified businesses or occupations in the prefecture, to attract human forces to highly demanded industries.
In principle, specified minimum wages should exceed the regional minimum wages of where the workplace is. For example, the minimum wage for dairy products process and sugar manufacturing in Hokkaido, 2019 is 892 yen, while the regional minimum wage is 861 yen as said above.
At the end of March 2019, there are 329 occupations set by specified minimum wages, and the number of applicable workers is 2.89 million.
The Act also defines that if two or more different minimum wages are applicable to a worker, the highest minimum wage should be applied.
Minimum wages will be discussed and updated every year's October, and have kept increasing 20~30 yen averagely these years, but an increase of over 200 yen also happened to some prefectures.
Keep notice on the update of minimum wage, and check if your hourly wage changed accordingly, or whether your job becomes applicable to specified minimum wages or not.
If your hourly wage is offered by your employer directly, to check whether exceeding the minimum wages will be very easy. In the case that your salary is paid by day or month, you need to do the calculation.
Your hourly wage = Daily salary ÷ prescribed working hours per day.
Check the regional and specified minimum wages of your workplace and your occupation, make sure that you got paid more than it.
For example, if the working conditions in your labor contract say that your workplace will be in Tokyo, working hours every day will be 8 hours, and your daily pay will be 9,200 yen. Your hourly wage can be calculated as 9,200÷8＝1,150 yen, which is more than Tokyo's regional minimum wage 1,013 yen.
Your hourly wage = Monthly salary ÷ prescribed working days per month
÷ prescribed working hours per day.
Monthly salary is usually offered with commute allowances, family allowances, etc, included, which should be excluded for calculation.
So you do the above calculation and check the standards in the act, and find out that your employer has paid you less, or your employer did nothing even if the minimum wage has been increased in October. What should you do?
The minimum wage must be paid by the employer, if not, the employer has violated the law and can be punished by a fine of not more than 500,000 yen. You have the right to request your employer pay as the minimum wage.
Instead of discussing with your employer by yourself, talking to labor standards offices will also be a good idea. Labor standards inspectors have the right to enter workplaces to inspect items, such as books and documents, or question relevant people.
Workers are totally protected for reporting violation actions, as employers can't dismiss workers or give workers other disadvantageous treatments due to these reports. Also you can choose to consult anonymously.
You may have experienced a lower pay than regional minimum wages during the probationary period. Is this a violation of the Minimum Wages Act?
The answer is not. The Act lists some cases for the Reduction of Minimum wages, that an employer can pay less than minimum wage, by deducting a certain percentage of the minimum wage specified by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, after permission obtained from the Director of the Prefectural Labor Bureau. These cases include mental or physical disabled workers, workers meaning to receive vocational training, and workers during a probationary period, etc.
With permission obtained, an employer can pay less than but over 80% of minimum wage during a probationary period not longer than 6 months.
However, data shows that application for this permission from employers keeps 0 recent years, which means that even hourly wage during a probationary period will be deducted a little bit, still it will be more than minimum wages. If you are paid less than minimum wage during a probationary period, make sure that your employer has obtained the permission.