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Business

Japan's FamilyMart to offer 4-day workweek

Option will support employees looking after family members

Convenience store operator FamilyMart joins other Japanese companies, including Fast Retailing, in offering a four-day workweek.

TOKYO -- FamilyMart employees caring for relatives will be able to work a four-day week starting as early as September, as the Japanese convenience store operator looks to boost efficiency by embracing different styles of working.

By 2020, the FamilyMart UNY Holdings unit aims to lower total working hours by about 9% from fiscal 2015, and to increase women in management positions from about 2% now to 10%.

The company hopes to offer employees the choice of a four-day workweek in the fiscal second half beginning in September. Although available to all of its 5,800 or so employees who qualify, the option is envisioned for staff in their 50s who need time off to care for their elderly parents. Employees who take the option will put in more hours on their assigned days, to fulfill a requirement to work at least 30 hours a week. Their pay is expected not to differ much from those on a regular five-day schedule.

Employees are already able to go on leave and work shorter hours if they are caring for elderly family members. In March, the convenience store operator began rehiring people who quit to look after children or elderly relatives, provided they had at least three years' experience and were within 10 years since their resignation. To encourage parents to make a swift return to the workplace, FamilyMart also offers a flat 15,000 yen ($135) subsidy toward nursery school fees for children up to the age of one, and shoulders monthly babysitting costs up to 120,000 yen.

According to Japan's labor ministry, 8% of companies let employees work four or fewer days a week in 2015, up roughly 5 percentage points over the last 10 years. Fast Retailing offers a four-day option to its Uniqlo clothing store employees, with KFC Holdings Japan following suit in fiscal 2016. Yahoo Japan will introduce a similar option starting in April.

(Nikkei)

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