Internet company Yahoo Japan Corp. is considering introducing a three-day weekend for all of its employees by 2020 in a push to abandon overworking in the country while also boosting productivity.
“We don’t see the three-day weekend system as the end goal but an option,” company spokeswoman Megumi Yagita said, according to Bloomberg.
Yagita added: “By giving employees more freedom on how to work, we’re hoping that employees choose a style that lets them perform at their best, so that we boost productivity.”
Japanese government and business groups will roll out a “Premium Friday” campaign in February to urge companies to allow workers to go home early on the last Friday of every month and spend more time with friends and family.
Long working hours have previously been praised as a trait of a diligent and disciplined worker. But it has become a major issue in Japan in recent months.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. was investigated this week over allegedly forcing its employees to work excessive hours.
The move comes after the suicide of a 24-year-old woman who had joined Japan’s biggest ad agency, Dentsu Inc., and put in more than 100 hours of overtime in one month.
Companies like Suntory Holdings and Japan Post Insurance Co., have stepped up to reduce hours by expanding work-from-home programs and turning off their office lights by 7:30 p.m.
Research suggests staff at about a quarter of the companies in Japan put in 80 hours of overtime per month, even though extra work is capped at 45 hours a week.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga stated on Wednesday that the country must “end of the norm of long working hours so people can balance their lives with things like raising a child or taking care of the elderly.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered a task force to cut long hours and create a more flexible working conditions for non-contracted employees.