It is said that happy employees are the building blocks to a successful company, where an equal exchange of labor and compensation, in turn, promotes a healthy environment for personal and economic growth. For all of us in this current era, in addition to our basic wages, welfare and benefits from working at a particular company are something that we have come to expect over the years.
You may have heard that a substantial amount of Japanese employees tend to stay within the same company throughout their entire careers, up until the day of their retirement. While there may be a multitude of factors that can influence an employee’s decision, the reality is that unsatisfied employees pose a large risk to a company, which can lead to both personal and financial loss. One way a company manages to keep these risks low and to ensure optimal employee satisfaction is through the implication of employee welfare and benefits.
Known as 福利厚生 (fukurikousei) in Japan, welfare and benefits offered by Japanese companies encompass many aspects of an employees’ life, from housing support to family benefits, and even child support.
Looking at the recruiting website for any Japanese company, welfare and benefits offered by each company are usually clearly listed along with other information that a job seeker may want to know, such as work location, salary, and bonuses. Welfare and benefits can then be broken down into two categories: those mandated by the law, and those that are not.
#1 Legal Welfare Expenses
This category acts as the legal baseline for all employee welfare benefits, as mandated by the Japanese government. Through this, all companies are required to subsidize an employee’s health and employment insurance fees, as well as a pension fund.
#2 Other Welfare and Benefits
Aside from welfare companies that are legally required to provide, many companies have additional welfare programs for employees that can include things such as travel expenses, health and lifestyle support, and many others. Listed below are some major benefits provided:
- Travel expenses
Commonly provided by a majority of companies, this eliminates a relatively large burden on employees by ensuring an employee does not have to pay out of pocket for their commute to and from work, as public transport fees in places like Tokyo tend to be rather high.
- Housing benefits
Some large companies may also provide housing support by allocating a certain amount of money in addition to an employee’s base salary for the purpose of rent. In Japan, it is also relatively common for companies to have employee-only dormitories, so that single and younger employees can save on rent, which can get quite expensive in certain areas. In addition, companies are also able to provide loans to employees with families seeking to buy property or act as a guarantor in matters pertaining to housing.
- Childcare/Maternity benefits
Parenthood should not come after one’s responsibilities as an employee, and childcare/maternity leave days are sometimes provided in addition to that required by the law. Subsidies for parents that may require babysitters may also be provided.
While services offered tend to vary from company to company, it is important to keep in mind what is generally offered to employees so that a smart decision can be made when accepting job offers. And when in doubt, do not hesitate to ask questions and to ask for clarification as it is important to remember that it is equally about what a company can do for you, as it is about what you can do for the company.