Labor Law in Japan: Is there an obligation to keep manager’s attendance record?

As the backlash against black companies continues to grow, we are considering the introduction of an attendance management system through the use of IC cards. This is based on a policy to make efforts to optimize working hours. From the viewpoint of facility safety management, we can also accumulate data on attendance at the managerial level since managers will also carry cards. However, because managers are exempt from appropriate time management, it is quite common to assume that preserving their data isn’t necessary. Is there an obligation to hold attendance data for those in managerial positions?


According to the Labor Standards Act, as a rule, there is no obligation to save work attendance data for managerial positions. However, in relation to cases of those who work late nights, even managers are subject to record keeping as well as late night allowances. Moreover, apart from the provisions under the Labor Standards Act, it must also be taken to account that as a form of health monitoring, the “Work-Style Reform Legislation” also imposes time management on managers who have not previously followed the rules set for normal workers.

Three Year Preservation Obligation of Employee Work Data

As rule for handling the data for working hours, in January, 2017 the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare, the Labor Standards Office and the Prefectural Labor Bureau formulated new guidelines related to “measures to be taken by employers in order to properly grasp working hours” (Notice No. 0120 Article 3 January 20, 2017).

According to the previously stated measure, “Employers will check the beginning and ending time of each employee’s work day and record their findings in order to fully grasp working hours.” It has become clear that employers will also bear the responsibility of documenting the working hours of their employees.

Next, according to Article 108 of the Labor Standards Act and Article 54 of the Enforcement Ordinance of the Labor Standards Act, employers must prepare and fill out the wage ledger for each workplace and stipulate in detail matters to be described in the wage ledger such as employee names, gender, wage calculation period, number of days worked, and number of hours worked.

Based on employees data, such as starting and ending hours, obtained through documentation by time cards or attendance records, employers will calculate the number of days worked, number of hours worked, number of hours worked on scheduled holidays, number of hours worked outside of regular working hours, and number of late night work hours in each wage calculation period and record the information in a wage ledger. Even after this primary data has been entered into a wage ledger, it cannot be immediately be discarded. This is because it falls under the “Important Documents Concerning Labor Relations” which is stipulated in Article 109 of the Labor Standards Act, it is necessary to preserve the records of work hours from the day they are recorded up to a maximum of three years.

According to the Labor Standards Act, as a rule, Managers are excluded.

However, if we again look at the “Guidelines for Employers to Appropriately Manage their Employees’ Working Hours,” “employees who are said to be supervisors and have de facto working hours” which is stipulated under Article 41 of the Standard Labor Act, will not be subjected to the documentation of working hours.

“Supervisors” stipulated in the Labor Standards Act are those who possess requirements such as “persons holding the same important authorities as a CEO” or persons “who are given proper wage treatment that is comparable to general employees.” Because supervisors do not require management of his or her own attendance, the provisions for working hours, holidays, and breaks will not apply. They will also not be eligible for payment of overtime work.

Due to the preceding paragraph, this is why supervisors are not a target for the preservation and the recording of working times.

In other words, if the contents of the manager’s job correctly satisfies the requirements of a “supervisor” under the Standard Labor Care Act, the preservation of attendance data will not be necessary.

Necessary Data Collection for Late Night Work for Managers

However, the tone changes when it comes to late night work, even for managers. It’s important to keep in mind that supervisors are not exempt to the provisions concerning the “premium wages for late night work (commentary on the Labor Standards Act).”

When managers have conducted work during late hours (between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M.), it will be necessary to preserve the description in a wage ledger and preserve the basic data for three years.
Furthermore, according to the Labor Standards Act, supervisors will not be subject to the application of provisions concerning working hours. However, because “late night allowances” are not included within the previously mentioned provisions, it is necessary to pay this to supervisors.

Obligation to Record all Employee Data Due to Work Style Reform Legislation

Apart from the provisions under the Labor Standards Act and due to a revision within the Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health, the Work-Style Reform Legislation imposes an “obligation to obtain all working hours of all employees (including managers) as a precondition for health management (The Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health, Article 52-7-3, paragraph 2).

It is also important to note that it is necessary to preserve the documentation of working hours for three years ( The Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health, Article 66-8, paragraph 3, Scheduled to take effect on April 1st, 2019).

Keeping correct documentation of attendance through instruments such as time coding will help limit overwork in companies.
In terms of considering employee health and safety, attendance management will also be important for managers.
In order to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, it is beneficial to skillfully operate a management system for a smoothly running workplace.


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