Maternity Leave, Childcare Leave, and Paternity Leave in Japan

“Maternity Leave, Childcare Leave, and Paternity Leave in Japan” in an unofficial FAQ for new and expecting parents in Japan!

My 5 year old daughter was born in Japan, and I took maternity leave and childcare leave. My husband took paternity leave as well. Our experience was extremely positive and the process very straightforward.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to encounter roadblocks navigating maternity leave and paternity leave in Japan, which is why I’ve come up with this unofficial guide/ FAQ.

Maternity Leave, Childcare Leave, and Paternity Leave consists of 3 parts:

Maternity Leave // Childcare Leave // Paternity Leave

What You Absolutely Need To Know Before Applying For Maternity Leave, Childcare Leave, and Paternity Leave In Japan

For as bad as Japanese ”work culture” is, the maternity/childcare/paternity leave benefits here are top notch.

HOWEVER…

Many employers are not familiar with the system, and many employees (both foriegn and Japanese) avoid “rocking the boat” and do not stand up for their rights.

But, as soon-to-be parents, you absolutely must learn how to stand up for yourself, for you and your child’s sake!

I’m not saying go on a Twitter or TikTok rampage and threaten to sue everyone. Nevertheless, you have to know when it’s important to stand up for yourself.

With that said, maternity leave (and child care leave and paternity leave) is a policy designed by the Japanese government.

Your employer can not deny you maternity leave or paternity leave or child care leave.

On the other hand, employers may, as I’ve seen online, do some real shady stuff to pressure workers into quitting.

Always remember to document all conversations with employers in writing.

For example, if your employer said something that seemed a bit… off, send a email like this:

I’d like to clarify our conversation where you said that I can not apply for maternity leave. 

Once you have your proof, file a complaint at the Labor Standards Office closest to your workplace (NOT your home).  

DO NOT GO TO HELLO WORK!!!

If your work environment is stressing you out, and you want to take a break, DO NOT QUIT. 

Instead, get your OB/GYN to write you a letter for medical leave. That way, you can focus on your health and your baby’s health while the Labor Standards Office does their thing.

Part I — Everything You Need To Know About Maternity Leave in Japan

What is “Maternity Leave” in Japan?

Maternity leave (産休 // sankyuu) is the period consisting of 6 weeks before giving birth (産前休業 // sanzen kyuugyou) and 8 weeks after giving birth (産後休業 // sango kyuugyou).

As maternity leave is a government-mandated policy in Japan, you can’t work after giving birth until 8 weeks have passed (6 weeks if you have a letter from your doctor). 

So, any employer asking you to return to work earlier than that is stepping out of line!

How Long Is Maternity Leave in Japan?

Maternity leave in Japan is for 98 days. 

It’s a period that covers 42 days leading up to giving birth and 56 days after giving birth. 

Anything after this period is considered “childcare leave” (see Part 2 for details).

Of course, babies are rarely born on their estimated day of birth, so this period varies from mom to mom.

Which is why you’re advised to apply for maternity leave benefits after giving birth, in order to calculate the exact payment and starting/dates.

For example, let’s say I gave birth to my daughter on February 14, 2022:

The first half of my maternity leave (産前休業), a 6 week period, starts January 4 and ends February 14, 2022, the day I gave birth.

The second half my maternity leave (産後休業), an 8 week period, begins the day after I gave birth, February 15, 2022, and ends on April 11, 2022.

Check your maternity leave dates here (link in Japanese):

https://www.bosei-navi.mhlw.go.jp/leave/

出産予定日または出産日を入力してください

Insert your expected due date or actual delivery date and 

双子以上の妊娠ですか。

check whether or not you are expecting twins or multiples. 

Who Is Eligible For Maternity Leave Japan?

Regardless if you’re a full-time, contract, part-time, arubaito, or full-time salaried worker with benefits, you are entitled to maternity leave!

Maternity leave is also available for you even if you had a miscarriage (provided you’re pregnant for more than 12 weeks) and if you’ve had a stillbirth.

How Do I Apply For Maternity Leave in Japan?

Submit your notice for maternity leave by using a form called sanzen sangou kyuugyou todoke (産前産後休業届).

In addition to the above form, you will have to submit extra paperwork in order to qualify for exemptions for pension and insurance payments

REMEMBER: Maternity leave is a system set up by the Japanese government. Therefore, no employer can deny you maternity leave!

How Much Are the Payments For Maternity Leave in Japan?

Maternity leave benefits are called shussan teatekin (出産手当金) in Japanese.

You get ⅔ of your monthly salary for the duration of your maternity leave, paid 2-4 months after birth.

Let’s say you make 250,000 yen before taxes. That breaks down to 8,333 yen a day, and ⅔ of that is 5,550 yen.

Multiply that daily rate by the actual amount of days taken for maternity leave, and that’s what you’ll receive. If you took 98 days off in total, you’d get a lump sum payment of 543,900 yen.

When Do I Get My Maternity Leave Payments?

Maternity leave benefits (出産手当金 // shussan teatekin) are paid via bank transfer, approximately 2-4 months after birth.

Part 2 — Everything You Need To Know About Childcare Leave in Japan

What is “Child Care Leave” in Japan?

Childcare leave for women (育休 // ikukyuu) is the period starting the day after maternity leave ends up until your child is 12 months old. 

These dates can be extended until your child is 18 months old or up to 2 years old under special circumstances (unable to find daycare, for example).

To get technical for a moment, Ikukyuu in Japanese can mean:

Ikuji kyuugyou (育児休業) refers to the legally designated time period for taking care of a child less than one year old.

Ikuji kyuuka (育児休暇) refers to an employee using designated paid (or unpaid) days to take care of a child less than one year old. Some employers allow workers to apply for leave for children under three years of age. Check with your employer to be sure.

Check your childcare leave dates here (link in Japanese):

https://www.bosei-navi.mhlw.go.jp/leave/

育児休業開始日を入力してください。

Input the date your childcare leave began (the day after your maternity leave ended)

Like maternity leave, child care leave is a government policy; therefore no employer can deny your right to take leave. 

However, your ability to take (paid) childcare leave depends on your employment status:

Who Is Eligible For Childcare Leave?

Unlike maternity leave, which is guaranteed for all working mothers, childcare leave is a bit tricky. 

Both moms and dads are eligible for (paid) childcare leave. However, they must meet one of the following employment conditions:

Full-Time Worker (正社員 // Seishain)

Contract worker (有期雇用契約社員// keiyaku shain)

  • Employed at the same company for at least one year 
  • With a contract extension that last extends past their child’s 18 month 

Part-Time Worker (パート // pa-to)

  • Works more than 2 days a week

Dispatch Worker (派遣社員 // haken shain)

How Much Are Childcare Benefits in Japan?

Child care leave benefits are called ikuji kyuugyou kyuufukin (育児休業給付金) in Japanese.

Childcare leave benefits are paid via employment insurance (雇用保険 // koyou hoken).

You get  ⅔ of your monthly salary for the first 6 months of child care leave, then it drops to ½ for the remainder of your child care leave.

To calculate how much you could receive in maternity and child care leave payments, use this calculator (link in Japanese):

https://www.bosei-navi.mhlw.go.jp/leave/leave2.html 

How Do I Apply For Child Care Leave in Japan?

To apply for your childcare leave benefits, you’ll need to submit these 2 forms to Hello Work:

育児休業給付金支給申請書 (ikuji kyuugyou kyuufukin shikyuu shinsei sho)

育児休業給付受給資格確認票 (ikuji kyuugyou kyuufu jujyuu shikaku kakuninhyou)

(Hello Work Online Application — Link in Japanese:

https://hoken.hellowork.mhlw.go.jp/assist/001000.do?screenId=001000&action=ikujiFirstLink

Either your employer can do it for you or your can submit it all to Hello Work on your own. However, you will need your employer’s cooperation with filling out/stamping the appropriate sections. 

You’ll need to apply for benefits every 2 months. 

What Happens To My Health Insurance, Pension, Employment Insurance Payments and Taxes When I’m On Child Care Leave?

You are exempt from paying health insurance (健康保険料 // kenkou hoken ryou), pension (年金保険 // nenkin hoken) and employment insurance (雇用保険料 // koyou hoken ryou).

BUT

You will have to make residence tax (住民税 // juuminzei) payments.

What If I Can’t Go Back To Work After Taking Childcare Leave?

For whatever reason you’re unable to return to work after taking childcare leave, you won’t have to return the payments. However, it’s good to let your employer know that you won’t be coming back.

Part 3 — Everything You Need To Know About Paternity Leave in Japan

Does Japan Have Paternity Leave?

Yes!

As of October 1, 2022, fathers in Japan are eligible for sangyou papa ikukyuu (産後パパ育休). It’s the informal name for an official government policy known as shuusanji ikuji kyugyou (出生時育児休業).

Fathers can take 8 weeks off work, after the birth of their child up until their child is 2 months old. These 8 weeks can be broken up into a maximum of two 4 week periods.

Men should apply at least 2 weeks before they intend to take leave.

This policy was designed so that fathers can be present at their child’s birth and also support the mother of their child as she navigates the physical and hormonal changes of their 4th trimester. 

Press Release  — Link in Japanese: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/newpage_27491.html 

After taking paternity leave, fathers can take childcare leave Ikuji kyuugyou (育児休業), which begins 8 weeks after your child’s birth. Men should apply for this one month before they intend to take leave.

How Much Are The Paternity Leave Benefits in Japan:

Shuusanji ikuji kyugyou kyuufu (出生時育児休業給付) benefits are calculated using your monthly salary for the past 6 months, divided by 180 (days) and multiplied by the days of leave taken multiplied by 67%. 

(Formula in Japanese: 支給金額 = 休業開始時の賃金日額 × 休業日数 × 67%)

Child care leave benefits are called ikuji kyuugyou kyuufukin (育児休業給付金) in Japanese.

You get  ⅔ of your monthly salary for the first 6 months of child care leave, then it drops to ½ for the remainder of your child care leave.

To calculate how much you could receive in child care leave payments, use this calculator (link in Japanese). https://www.bosei-navi.mhlw.go.jp/leave/leave2.html 

How Do I Apply For Paternity Leave in Japan?

Submit your applications for sangyou papa ikukyuu (産後パパ育休) AKA  shuusanji ikuji kyugyou (出生時育児休業) at Hello Work. Applications must be made between 8 weeks after your child’s birth, up until 2 months

For example, if your child is born on March 1, you can apply (via your employer) between April 27 and June 30.

To apply for your childcare leave benefits, you’ll need to submit these 2 forms to Hello Work:

育児休業給付金支給申請書 (ikuji kyuugyou kyuufukin shikyuu shinsei sho)

育児休業給付受給資格確認票 (ikuji kyuugyou kyuufu jujyuu shikaku kakuninhyou)

(Hello Work Online Application — Link in Japanese:

https://hoken.hellowork.mhlw.go.jp/assist/001000.do?screenId=001000&action=ikujiFirstLink

Either your employer can do it for you or your can submit it all to Hello Work on your own. However, you will need your employer’s cooperation with filling out/stamping the appropriate sections.

You’ll need to apply for benefits every 2 months. 

Can My Partner and I Take Paternity Leave and Maternity Leave at the Same Time?

YES!

As a matter of fact, you can you can even stagger the dates using the mama papa ikukyuu purasu seido (ママ・パパ育休プラス制度 ).

Childcare leave can be extended to when a child is 14 months old if both mother and father intend to take (育児休業) ikuji kyuugyou leave.

Final Thoughts — Everything You Need To Know About Maternity Leave, Childcare Leave, and Paternity Leave in Japan 

This FAQ is a work in progress that I will update whenever relevant information makes the news. 

While it’s intended as a quick English-language reference, this post is not a substitute for legal advice.

Please be sure to double check with your employer, Hello Work and your insurance provider for the most up-to-date information.

Good luck and all the best to the expecting and new parents in Japan!

Be sure to check out these related posts:

The Cost of Giving Birth in Japan and How to Pay For It

An Inside Look At Daycare in Japan

Maternity Leave, Childcare Leave, and Paternity Leave in Japan

 

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